A research brief released this week from GLSEN finds that roughly 10 million students in seven U.S. states are schooled under laws that specifically target LGBT+ students.
In Alabama, a statewide anti-bullying law calls on schools to develop policies that foster environments free of harassment, intimidation and violence, although another law says health educators must emphasize “that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.”
Even after accounting for state differences in demographics, geographic region, urbanicity, education spending, and political attitudes, schools in states with “no promo homo” laws were:
- Less likely to have teachers and administrators who were supportive of LGBTQ students
- Less likely to address LGBTQ people and topics in their curriculum overall, but were more likely to include negative LGBTQ representations
- Less likely to have other supportive resources including student clubs such as GSAs, comprehensive anti-bullying policies, LGBTQ-inclusive library resources, and the ability to access LGBTQ-related internet content
- Less likely to have LGB-inclusive school health services
Other differences between states with and those without “no promo homo” laws were also found, after accounting for demographics, geography, and state education spending. LGBTQ students faced more frequent homophobic remarks and greater anti-LGBTQ victimization, as well as less acceptance from other students in “no promo homo” states. Teachers in states with these laws were less likely to display visual support for LGBTQ students, such as “Safe Space” posters, and less likely to serve as GSA advisors. However, for the most part, these specific differences diminished once we accounted for differences in political attitudes in the states. – GLSEN.org
The seven states with these laws, referred to as "no promo homo" laws barring teachers from positively portraying homosexuality in schools, were established to decrease a teacher's support of LGBT+ students and limit students’ access to necessary resources.
There was another state on the list, Utah, but in July the law was repealed. Texas, Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi still have these laws.
So when we see Olympians, stars, and political figures coming forward and living their true, honest, LGBT+ lives, we have to than them, for that may be all some of these students will see or hear about. And we all remember what it was like to have someone to look up to. Unfortunately, that won't be in these states' school systems.