A Look at African American LGBT Youth in America's School System

SOURCE: AP/Stephan Savoia

The Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, published an analysis of the challenges black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth face at school. In “The Kids Are Not Alright: The Plight of African American LGBT Youth in America’s Schools,” Danielle Moodie-Mills, the organization’s advisor for LGBT Policy and Racial Justice, highlights the importance of creating safe spaces for all students. According to research from GLSEN’s Shared Differences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students of Color in Our Nation’s Schools, a study that focuses specifically on the school experiences of LGBT students of color, 85 percent of black LGBT students say they hear anti-gay slurs daily in the hallways. Another 47 percent of these students also hear racist insults during an average school day. Reports reveal that bullying has a negative impact on LGBT students’ test scores and grades. New research shows that being consistently bullied also significantly lowers academic performance for high-achieving black and Latino students, leaving LGBT youth of color who are bullied with an even wider achievement gap. "Schools are supposed to be environments where students feel safe and gain the skills necessary for success," Moodie-Mills explains. Unfortunately, black LGBT students, particularly those in schools where the student population is predominantly black, are less likely to attend schools that have supportive policies and programs such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). Research findings indicate that GSAs and similar resources have a positive impact on social climate and grade point averages. GLAAD is working closely with the parents of LGBT youth of color to continue the conversation about why bullying and violence has no place in our schools.