Tag Archives: bathroom

The Impact of School Environments on LGBTQ Youth

Abstract

The impact of negative school environments were examined on LGBTQ youth, focusing on the mental and academic areas. LGBTQ students who experienced higher rates of victimization experienced more frequent school and mental health problems. Students in supportive environments experienced less frequent school issues, especially if the school staff showed support and understanding. Studies show and support that negative school environments have long-lasting repercussions for LGBTQ students that influence later life choices such as higher education as well as reported self-esteem and depression.

The Impact of School Environments on LGBTQ Youth

In the United States, the majority of youth spend most of their time in the education system. In this environment students learn not only about math, social studies, and various other topics, but about how to interact with peer groups, form life-long social relationships, and learn about themselves, their identities, and their place in the world. While school is meant to be a mostly learning environment, the social aspects of the school experience cannot be ignored. Due to this social aspect of school, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) youth face special hardships due to their sexuality and gender that are not faced by their heterosexual and cisgender peers (Cahill & Cianciotto, 2012). These hardships are not caused by peers alone but also from faculty and staff as well which creates an even more negative environment for LGBTQ youth.

This victimization takes many forms from vocal, to verbal, to sexual. Students face anti-queer sentiments from simply hearing their sexuality used as an insult (“That’s so gay”) to having laws and lawsuits placed against their needs such as using the correct restrooms in the case of transgender students (Biegel, 2010; Kosciw, Greytak, Palmer, & Boesen, 2014). The harsher the responses and the source of the victimization have a direct connection with the response of the LGBTQ youth. The lack of support from faculty and staff in regards to peer issues leads to greater harm than students who face victimization but have the support of the school staff (Adelman & Woods, 2006).

These negative environments also lead to a decline in school attendance, lower GPA, mental health issues, and lack of goals for future education. The impact of the negative environment is harsh, taking its toll on not only on school based activities, but mental health as well. LGBTQ youth in unsupportive and negative school environments face lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression and even more suicidal ideations/thoughts that those whose environments are supportive of them (Adelman & Woods, 2006). This impact does not stop after the student leaves school but can leave lasting mental health issues that can lead to problems with substance abuse as well as problems with maintaining relationships later on in life (Grant, Mottet, Tanis, Harrison, & Herman, 2011).

The key is not only to tackle the negative environment but to make sure that the students also have a support structure as well. This includes clubs like Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), on the books anti-bullying policies, as well as training for faculty and staff in dealing with the specific needs of LGBTQ students (Cahill & Cianciotto, 2012). These support structures are crucial in taking the epidemic of problems faced by LGBTQ youth within the school system. Without these support structures, students have no way of creating an environment that is safe for them to grow, learn, and create lasting peer groups as well as positive self-esteem (Adelman & Woods, 2006; Biegel, 2010). Negative school environments lead to problems in school with attendance and GPA as well as mental health issues that last once the student leaves school. This paper will look over these negative school environments and these various impacts on LGBTQ students throughout their school careers.

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HB 87, Birth Certificates, and Genitals

Genitals. Genitals. Genitals. If there is one thing cis people obsess over, it is the genitals of others. Well, mostly when those genitals are attached to someone who is trans*. It almost seems like they want to know what we are packing at all times, or what we used to be packing. They like to ask invasive questions about our junk, how it functions, what it looks like, and how we use it. Our genitals are a constant fixation for cis people. In fact, our genitals are such a fixation that people pass laws involving them.

This is obsession has made itself known in Utah under the bill, HB 87, which seeks to dictate which restroom people can use in schools on the basis of their ‘phenotype’. The legislation uses the word phenotype to mean the gender of an individual on their birth certificate. Since birth certificate genders are based on assumptions based on the genitals of children, the bill’s writer, Michael Kennedy, uses phenotype to mean genitals. Those who are trans* need to have their genitals examined by a physician and have a letter saying they are phenotypically male or female. Convoluted language aside, this bill is downright ridiculous.

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Bathrooms and Prejudice

This piece is going to be relatively short. I am tired of the trope that trans women are harassing or a potential danger to cis women in washrooms, locker rooms, and other semi-private spaces. This piece on TransAdvocate by Zinnia Jones goes into wonderful detail about how the idea of trans women being a threat to cis women is an entirely imaginary harm. I want to slightly expand on her example, and make it more broad, encompassing how some cis women believe trans women are inherently a threat to them.

Chrissy Lee Polis was beaten to the point of having a seizure at a McDonald’s in Maryland. Her assailants were cis women. Polis’s crime? Trying to use the bathroom.

This teen girl was videotaped being beaten by a group of cis women at her school. Her crime? Being trans*.

Then there is the young girl who is currently being singled out by the Pacific Justice Institute. She has been pushed to the brink of suicide due to the lies being pushed by the organization. In fact, PJI went as far as to manufacture complaints about her harassing cis women in the locker room, which has been proven to be untrue.

These are just a few examples. However, I know the argument of “they should just use the men’s room instead” if cis women are under such a threat. Well… Let’s talk about that, shall we?

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