Opinion
School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

Invisibility to Inclusivity for LGBTQ Students

November 17, 2020 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

I read with interest “The Essential Traits of a Positive School Climate” (Special Report: “Getting School Climate Right: A Guide for Principals,” Oct. 14, 2020). The EdWeek Research Center survey of principals and teachers provides interesting insight as to why there are still school climate issues for LGBTQ students.

Respondents were asked, “How comfortable do you believe the following groups of students [Black, LGBTQ, immigrant, students from low-income families, Hispanic, students with disabilities, and female students] feel at your school?” Eighteen percent of respondents selected, “We do not have [LGBTQ students] at our school.” About 2 percent and 34 percent of respondents also said LGBTQ students were “extremely uncomfortable” or “very, somewhat uncomfortable” at school, respectively.

We have a steep hill to climb in making schools safe and inviting for these students. School leaders must question those who believe that LGBTQ students do not exist at their school. According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ young people are at higher risk for both contemplating and attempting suicide than their heterosexual peers. As a gay woman and an out superintendent (who was an out high school principal for 11 years), it is my professional responsibility to make schools safe places for LGBTQ students and tell students—through institutional word and action—that they are safe.

We have a long way to go before we can say we are getting school climate right for LGBTQ students as well as Black, Indigenous, and students of color. As these students have long experienced and can attest, invisibility is the first step to marginalization and devaluation, particularly within the walls of the school building. In this time of heightened anxiety, political uncertainty, and hate-filled rhetoric, schools must be a refuge for, and a champion of, the invisible.

Terri L. Holden

Superintendent

Yellow Springs Exempted Village School District

Yellow Springs, Ohio

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the November 18, 2020 edition of Education Week as Invisibility to Inclusivity for LGBTQ Students

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Stronger Together: Integrating Social and Emotional Supports in an Equity-Based MTSS
Decades of research have shown that when schools implement evidence-based social and emotional supports and programming, academic achievement increases. The impact of these supports – particularly for students of color, students from low-income communities, English
Content provided by Illuminate Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety What the Research Says Bullying Dropped as Students Spent Less Time in In-Person Classes During Pandemic
Researchers based their findings on an analysis of internet searches on online and school-based harassment.
5 min read
Cyber bullying concept. Paper cut Woman head silhouette with bullying messages like disgusting, OMG!!, loser, hate, ugly, and stupid.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Interactive School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where
Education Week is tracking K-12 school shootings in 2022. See the number of incidents and where they occurred in our map and data table.
2 min read
Sign indicating school zone.
iStock/Getty
School Climate & Safety Infographic School Shootings in 2021: 4 Takeaways, in Charts
In 2021, there were 34 school shootings that hurt or killed people, the most since 2018. Here's what we know about school shootings this year.
Illustration of a gun and a school in the background.
iStock/Getty collage
School Climate & Safety Opinion Assessing Shooting Threats Is a Matter of Life or Death. Why Aren't Experts Better at It?
To take the right actions before the next tragedy occurs, schools need all the help they can get, write three experts.
David Riedman, Jillian Peterson & James Densley
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of young person in crisis
iStock/Getty