School-Based Adolescent HIV/STD Prevention Newsletter: Volume 1, Issue 3

This newsletter was developed as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health’s (DASH) initiative, Expanding Partnerships and Disseminating HIV Prevention Materials to Reduce HIV and other STDs among Adolescents through National Non-Governmental Organizations (PS16-1603). The initiative was created to increase education of key stakeholders on CDC-developed approaches to school-based programs for creating healthier adolescents (10-19 years old) by reducing HIV and STD infection. This issue focuses on bullying prevention.

FEATURED BLOGS

School-Based Approaches to Bullying Prevention (Authored by Becca Mui, M.Ed. Education Manager at Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a perfect time to think about anti-bullying practices in schools. As a former school teacher, I remember how important the beginning of the year can be to setting up your classroom community. Now, in my role at GLSEN as the Education Manager, I get emails and messages every day from educators across the country asking how to support their students and address bullying and harassment.

Many of our supports are developed from our research on school climate. Our 2015 National School Climate Survey reported on the school experiences of LGBTQ youth including the extent of the challenges that they face at school and the school-based resources that support their well-being. This report found that anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination negatively affected the educational outcomes of LGBTQ youth, as well as their mental health.

In addition, From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, reports on the school experiences of all students to provide an in-depth look at the current landscape of bias and peer victimization across the nation. From this report we were able to determine that, compared to their non-LGBTQ peers, LGBTQ students are twice as likely to have missed school in the past month due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable.

It’s important that the adults in school systems take a proactive approach to bullying and harassment by setting up a culture of LGBTQ visibility and support. Based on the research, we recommend four major supports that schools can use to cultivate a safe and supportive environments:

  • Enumerated Policies
    Anti-bullying policies that are comprehensive and specifically include protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression can help in addressing and preventing bullying and harassment. Check out GLSEN’s model policies for some examples.
  • Supportive Educators
    As GLSEN’s Education Manager, I’m constantly meeting and hearing about educators who are doing all they can to support their students. We are constantly teaching, in what we say and what we don’t say, in the people we include in our lessons and the stories we share. Having educators advocating for LGBTQ youth and amplifying their messages can take some of the burden off LGBTQ youth. Educators can use our Safe Space Kit for information and tips for how to become an active ally to LGBTQ youth.
  • Student-Led Clubs
    GSAs (gender-sexuality alliance type clubs) often advocate for improved school climate, educate the larger school community about LGBTQ issues, and support LGBTQ students and their allies. LGBTQ students need a safe space where they can be themselves and feel a sense of community. GSA  type-clubs can be this space, and can also center youth activism to continue to make change in a school. You can find GSA activities and ideas on our website.
  • Inclusive Curriculum
    In any subject, having LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in your lessons and being mindful of gender-neutral language can be a tremendous support. LGBTQ students in schools with an LGBTQ-Inclusive curriculum were less likely to miss school in the past month (18.6% compared to 35.6%, National School Climate Survey, 2015). Inclusive curriculum ensures that LGBTQ students see themselves reflected in the lessons they are being taught, and also creates opportunities for all students to gain a more complex and authentic understanding of the world around them. Overall, inclusive curriculum can contribute to a safer school climate.

Implementing these four supports in K-12 schools can help to address and prevent bullying and harassment and work towards cultivating a school environment where all students feel welcome and ready to learn.

RESOURCES

ThinkB4YouSpeak Guide for Educators of Grades 6-12provided by GLSEN
“That’s so gay.” Research shows that slurs like this one are incredibly common in our schools. The crazy part? Most students don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings – they’re just using everyday words and phrases. But as we know, they may be just three little words, but their power to hurt is huge. In order to address this unintentional-but-all-too-frequent harassment, GLSEN has partnered with The Ad Council to create the first national multimedia PSA campaign to raise awareness among teens and adults about the power their words have to hurt. The campaign includes an educator’s guide to assist educators and others who work with teens to introduce the campaign resources, frame and discuss the ads, and extend learning about the negative consequences of homophobic language and anti-LGBT bias. With knowledge and a simple call to think before speaking, we hope to cut down and prevent the use of homophobic language in our schools.

GLSEN Safe Space Kit
Designed to help you create a safe space for LGBTQ youth in schools, this Safe Space Kit is GLSEN’s Guide to Being an Ally to LGBTQ Students. The guide provides concrete strategies that will help you support LGBTQ students, educate about anti-LGBTQ bias and advocate for changes in your school. For more information about the Safe Space Kit, click here.

Gender Inclusive Schools Toolkit provided by Gender Spectrum
Gender inclusive schools and classrooms welcoming all children and teens are within any school community’s reach with these education-focused resources.

GLSEN National School Climate Survey
The GLSEN National School Climate Survey (pdf) is our flagship report on the school experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools, including the extent of the challenges that they face at school and the school-based resources that support LGBTQ students’ well-being. The survey has consistently indicated that specific school-based supports are related to a safer and more inclusive school climate, including: supportive educators, LGBT-inclusive curriculum, comprehensive anti-bullying policies, and supportive student clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).

Bullying Resources from the CDC
As bullying remains a serious problem among teens in the U.S., the CDC has developed a number of resources to help local education agencies better understand, prevent, and respond to bullying in their schools; some of which include: Understanding Bullying, Anti-Bullying Policies and Enumeration, Bullying and Absenteeism

Bullying & LGBT Youth
Visit www.Stopbullying.gov to learn more about:

UPCOMING CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS

ASHA 2017 School Health Conference

Date & Location: October 11-13 in St. Louis, MO – Click here to register!

Poster: Sustainable Support: Building Partnerships between Education Agencies and Public Health Partners to Improve Adolescent Sexual Health, presented by Samantha Ritter, MPH (NACCHO) from 12:30PM-1:30PM on Friday, October 13, 2017.

  • This poster will describe the innovative process of developing a partnership to support community capacity and organizational infrastructure to advance adolescent access to sexual health education, sexual health services, and safe and supportive environments.

AASA Annual Conference: Education in the Digital Age

Date & Location: February 15-17, 2018 in Nashville, TN.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Webinar: LGBTQ Inclusivity in Sexual Health Education

Presenters: Nora Gelperin and Brittany McBride – Advocates for Youth

  • Health education curricula to reduce HIV/STDs in young people should be inclusive for all students. Advocates for Youths’ Rights, Respect, Responsibility (3Rs) endeavors to be the first K-12 curriculum that affirms LGBTQ youth and teaches the respect and dignity that all young people deserve.  Please join Advocates for Youth for the LGBTQ Inclusivity and Sexual Health Education webinar on Wednesday, September 20th from 1- 2 pm EST. Upon completion of the webinar, attendees will be able to explain why inclusive sexual health education is critical for LGBTQ youth, provide strategies to adapt lesson plans to make them more inclusive for LGBTQ youth, and highlight unique features regarding inclusivity of the Rights, Respect, Responsibility (3Rs) curriculum. Click here to access a video recording of the webinar.

About Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in infectious disease and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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