GLSEN has released a new school guide and national survey of school counselors, social workers, and psychologists (SMHP). The Supporting Safe and Healthy Schools for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Students finds:

The guide includes results from a survey of mental health professionals regarding issues dealing with the student LGBTQ population. Survey categories include: Student Safety; Bullying, Harassment, and Biased Language; Graduate Education and Training; LGBTQ-Related Attitudes and Beliefs School Mental Health Professionals’ Attitudes; and Confidence in Working with LGBTQ Student Issues.

According to the report a large majority of SMHPs in the study are in a unique position to be strong advocates for LGBTQ students and school safety in general. The survey also indicated that these professionals largely held positive attitudes towards LGBTQ-related issues in schools and saw LGBTQ students facing considerable barriers to feeling safe in schools, and felt that they played an important role in supporting students.

The report cautions that there is a gap between their desire to support LGBTQ students and their actual practices to support LGBTQ students. Some personnel were very active in their support and advocacy for students but the majority rarely engaged in many of the LGBTQ-related supportive practices examined, and a concerning number of SMHPs in the study reported never engaging in supportive practices.

Some of the survey results include: approximately a third of SMHPs (32.6%) believed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students would feel unsafe in their schools and nearly half (48.9%) believed that transgender students would feel unsafe. Fewer than 1 in 5 (17.2%) believed that students with LGBTQ parents would feel unsafe but nearly 8 in 10 SMHPs (78.1%) believed that bullying, name-calling, and/or harassment of students were serious problem in their schools. Bullying, name-calling, and/or harassment was the second most serious problem cited in their schools, after student behavioral, emotional, and mental health problems.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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