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Learning at its Best, Philosophical Meanderings, Student Voices

Are we leaving LGBTQ and Pansexual students behind?

Youth deserve the right to be educated, to educate, to be empowered, and to empower, regardless of their sexual, racial, religious, or ethnical identities. They furthermore deserve the right to feel safe and protected in an environment that lets them be themselves without any fear of intimidation or unchecked ignorance. While the US has come a long way in ensuring that those rights are protected, especially in the areas of racial and ethnical inclusion we still have a long way to go in providing children the right to be LGBTQ or Pansexual  and to practice the religions that matches their ideologies.

However, youth that are LGBTQ or Pansexual are amongst the group that much concerned should be geared toward. These youth, faced with rampant rises in homelessness, parental abandonment, psychological abuse from adults and peers, and sometimes-physical abuse coupled with weak understanding of laws like McKinney Vento are youth that we risk leaving behind in a system that waits for no one. This risk grows when the academic environment becomes the secondarily hostile environment for these youth for the simple fact that they already face hostility at home and the one place they come to be empowered does the exact opposite. Therefore when these youth, unlike Black, economically disadvantaged, or learning disabled students, receive no extra attention even though they face obstacles that are just as great compared to students in those groups it puts them in a position to feel like they are being left behind.

So the questions become: Do youth who are LGBTQ or Pansexual need greater protections, more resources, and monitoring from the US Depts. of Education and Justice like children in other “At risk” groups? Would greater protections, resources, and surveillance help these youth in the end? Would greater protections, more stringent surveillance, and more resources help educators and education officials with understanding the unique challenges that these youth face?



5 thoughts on “Are we leaving LGBTQ and Pansexual students behind?

  1. It would be great to share anecdotes here of how community members have cooperated in building safe-havens for students in schools that largely ignore problems that seem not to bear on pass or graduation rates – largely because the system isn’t looking for or looking out for these kids or more significant life outcomes for all kids.


    Posted by Chad Sansing | July 25, 2012, 5:09 am
  2. Thank you for raising some of these questions. In my experience as a queer man of color, school was a place in which I experienced a great deal of hate and alienation. However, this was just as true for myself as a Black student as it was for myself as a queer student. The structure of school largely failed to support, nurture and comprehend my various struggles and identities, and on the occasions that it did, it did so because of dedicated teachers and students, many of whom shared those struggles with me. The state department and even the local administration were not where the limited amount of support I received ever came from. In fact, I would argue, it was despite the surveillance and monitoring of these institutions that I received the support I was lacking.

    Some of the unique struggles facing queer students–especially queer students who are also Brown, poor, working class, and/or from immigrant backgrounds–are often unaddressed and inadequately understood by the institution of schooling, and I appreciate your bringing them up. My question might be, is further intervention on the part of the state and the traditional institution of school where action should start, or is it to the students and communities experiencing these struggles which can best teach how to address them? Do our intersecting identities and the battles born with them point us to implore the state for more resources, or to challenge the structure of the state on a more fundamental level?

    Posted by rad fag | July 28, 2012, 11:15 am
  3. I think LGBTQ and others are left behind because of errors in the structure/framework of US society as a whole. Lines of demarcation follow familial paths across the generations — LGBTQ existence, I think, worsens the situation for some.

    It is quite clear very few individuals shift out of the ‘class’ into which they are born. This is true whether one is straight-white-rich, queer-black-poor or any other combination, permutation or concatenation.

    I have significant doubts as to whether legal protections or supports would remedy the situation relative to students excepting, perhaps, for complete integration and a financial flattening of all parts of the education system.

    Posted by Brent Snavely | July 31, 2012, 12:04 pm
    • You know, it took me a while to fully understand what you were saying. I had been hung on the belief that movement between the lines was something that was involuntary. But then I thought about it, just like with race, the lines exist for the mere existence of sanity in a society where familiarity is something that is clinched onto. To introduce something that’s not perceived as norm in a society where the norm takes forever to change, especially in a micro-society like that of a schools community, requires much more than what laws and surveillance can offer. Yes, it might give insight but it will take forever to change the perceived, especially when the perceived is hinged on the perception of society built around the lines of demarcation.

      Posted by Jabreel Chisley | July 31, 2012, 5:05 pm

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