Betsy DeVos Is Okay With Schools Banning LGBT Students

This article appeared in Psychology Today on May 25, 2017. I’m so sad to see such disrespect for LGBT children. A variety of studies indicate that LGB youth are nearly one and a half to three times more likely to have reported suicidal ideation than non-LGB youth. Research from several sources also revealed that LGB youth are nearly one and a half to seven times more likely than non-LGB youth to have reported attempting suicide. These studies do not include transgender youth. [Source: http://www.sprc.org/sites/default/files/migrate/library/SPRC_LGBT_Youth.pdf]

Betsy DeVos needs to be educated on LGBT issues!

Here’s the article:

Version:1.0 StartHTML:000000272 EndHTML:000056970 StartFragment:000042700 EndFragment:000056926 StartSelection:000042738 EndSelection:000056880 SourceURL:https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/political-minds/201705/betsy-devos-is-okay-schools-banning-lgbt-studentsBetsy DeVos Is Okay With Schools Banning LGBT Students | Psychology Today 

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Source: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Gay and transgender students are commonly victims of harassment and bullying in school. Studies have estimated that as many as  80 percent  of transgender youth (link is external) experience bullying, and this mistreatment is one of the greatest predictors (link is external) of behavioral and emotional problems among these kids. 82 percent  of gay and lesbian students (link is external) report similar bullying. 31 percent  of LGBT students (link is external)  say  that their schools do nothing about it.

The U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also plans to do nothing, when it comes to anti-LGBT policies in schools receiving federal funding. During yesterday’s Congressional testimony, US Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts) asked DeVos about Indiana’s  Lighthouse Christian Academy. The school receives over $665,000 in school vouchers. The school also states (link is external)  in its handbook  that if a student is from a home  in which a “homosexual lifestyle” or “alternate gender identity” is practiced,  that the student can be denied admission or expelled.

Rep. Clark then asked Secretary DeVos if she would step in and require the school to eliminate its discriminatory policy in order to receive federal funding. After several attempts to avoid the question, DeVos ultimately answered that she would not. A video of her testimony is available here (link is external).

Pediatricians, psychiatrists, and psychologists (with a few extreme exceptions) have been working tirelessly to improve the health of LGBT youth. They  have spent countless hours working with schools to make them safer for these students. As school climates improved, we started to see students thrive. One transgender 13-year-old girl (link is external) I worked with has straight A’s, was in her school play, and is already thinking about college. Gay and lesbian students are valedictorians, varsity team captains, and class presidents.

If we’ve learned one thing about LGBT youth, it’s that when we take away the bullying and rejection, these kids succeed. The Lighthouse Academy, by refusing to accept these students, is bullying and rejecting. It is the job of the Secretary of Education to do everything she can to end this bullying so that these students can thrive. Secretary DeVos refuses to accept this responsibility.

We know that when a family rejects a child’s LGBT identity, it can increase the risk of suicide almost 20 (link is external) percent. I’m afraid of what will happen when the head of our national’s education system does the same.

Jack Turban’s writing on  neuroscience  and children’s mental health has appeared in  The New York Times, Scientific American, The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and Kevin MD  among others. Find him on  Twitter  @jack_turban or online at jackturban.com. 

 

PLEASE never give up on educating our educators!

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