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bullying and harassment, exclusion from school curricula and resources, restrictions on LGBT student groups, and other forms of discrimination and bigotry against students and staff based on sexual orientation and gender identity.While not exhaustive, these broad issues offer a starting point for policymakers and administrators to ensure that LGBT people’s rights are respected and protected in schools.Josh Greer, a student who has been the target of bullying and discrimination in school, writes in his journal in his bedroom in Cache Country, UT, October 2016.© 2016 Mariam Dwedar for Human Rights Watch Outside the home, schools are the primary vehicles for educating, socializing, and providing services to young people in the United States.
“I’ve been shoved into lockers, and sometimes people will just push up on me to check if I have boobs,” said Kevin I., a 17-year-old transgender boy in Utah.He added that school administrators dismissed his complaints of verbal and physical abuse, blaming him for being “so open about it.”In some instances, teachers themselves mocked LGBT youth or joined the bullying.Lynette G., the mother of a young girl with a gay father in South Dakota, recalled that when her daughter was eight, “she ran home because they were teasing her.The research focused on public schools, including public charter schools, rather than private schools that enjoy greater autonomy to act in accordance with their particular beliefs under US law. Whenever possible, interviews were conducted one-on-one in a private setting.Researchers spoke with 358 current or former students and 145 teachers, administrators, parents, service providers, and advocates for LGBT youth. Researchers also spoke with interviewees in pairs, trios, or small groups when students asked to meet together or when time and space constraints required meeting with members of student organizations simultaneously.
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Over the last 15 years, lawmakers and school administrators have increasingly recognized that LGBT youth are a vulnerable population in school settings, and many have implemented policies designed to ensure all students feel safe and welcome at school. In many states and school districts, LGBT students and teachers lack protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.