School & District Management

Site Aims to Help Rural Gay Youths

April 04, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Being gay as a young person in rural areas and small towns can’t be easy.

Neither is working with such young people, for educators who must navigate state laws, religious beliefs, and social norms.

Christopher J. Stapel knows all of that better than most. A high school math teacher in Boston, the 25-year-old is gay and grew up in small-town Illinois, often feeling isolated. As a recent graduate student in education policy at Harvard University, he received a fellowship that helped him conduct research into the lives of rural gay youths and the educators and other professionals who cross paths with them.

He has developed a Web site ——and a guide that he hopes are useful for young people and adults who work with gay, lesbian, bisexual, questioning, and transgender youths. It’s titled, “No Longer Alone: A Resource Manual for Rural Sexual Minority Youth and the Adults Who Serve Them.”

“There are students who identify themselves as gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender in all of our classrooms. That in itself is important to recognize,” said Mr. Stapel, who teaches 9th grade math at the Boston Community Leadership Academy, a public school.

The Web site includes sections for students, teachers, and social-service providers. It’s a storehouse for all sorts of information about what it’s like to grow up gay or lesbian in a rural area, how to support gay young people, and long lists of Internet and other resources on such subjects as religion and mental health.

In his research, Mr. Stapel said he was surprised to learn there was of a lot of activity among educators, social-service providers, mental-health counselors, and others who might work with adolescents who are gay or believe they might be.

He spoke with more than 100 people and more than 30 organizations as he produced the Web site and the guidebook. The materials have been used as a resource by Iowa educators, New Mexico social workers, and leadership-training organizers for gay youths in Illinois.

Among his advice: Educators should never assume youths’ romantic interests involve the opposite sex. “There are plenty of gay people in rural places,” Mr. Stapel said.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 05, 2006 edition of Education Week


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.
Mathematics Webinar
Pave the Path to Excellence in Math
Empower your students' math journey with Sue O'Connell, author of “Math in Practice” and “Navigating Numeracy.”
Content provided by hand2mind
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.
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Combatting Teacher Shortages: Strategies for Classroom Balance and Learning Success
Learn from leaders in education as they share insights and strategies to support teachers and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Reading Instruction and AI: New Strategies for the Big Education Challenges of Our Time
Join the conversation as experts in the field explore these instructional pain points and offer game-changing guidance for K-12 leaders and educators.

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 & District Management What's Stopping Later School Start Times That Support Teen Sleep? Bus Schedules, for One
See practical strategies for districts looking to move start times to accommodate teen sleep schedules.
5 min read
Crossing guard Pamela Lane waves at a school bus passing her intersection as she crosses students going to Bluford Elementary School on Sept. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia.
Crossing guard Pamela Lane waves at a school bus passing her intersection near Bluford Elementary School on Sept. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia.
Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
School & District Management Opinion 'I Used to Think School Systems Were Broken': Educators Reflect
Changing your mind or evolving your thinking is not easy. Hear how these education leaders did just that.
1 min read
Used to Think
Hear how these Harvard education graduate students evolved their thinking around both their practice and work as systems leaders.
School & District Management Opinion I Teach Educators How to Change Their Minds. Here’s How
Four important lessons for how educators—school and district leaders, especially—can create opportunities for growth.
Jennifer Perry Cheatham, Erica Lim & Carmen Williams
5 min read
Video stills
The students from the Leaders of Learning class taught by Jennifer Perry Cheatham at the Harvard Graduate School of Education last year.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week
School & District Management Opinion The 4 Gifts Principals Should Give Teachers This Year (Hint: Not Another School Mug)
Instead of a staff pizza party or a school-branded mug, give them meaningful gifts that really nourish their craft.
4 min read
A Large yellow bow across the foreground of a  photo illustration group of teachers line up happily closely together along a wall
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva