Make Schools Safer for Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Youth
Name-Calling Among the words you may hear are fag, dyke, faggot, queer, gay sissy, lesbo, "that's so gay," etc.
     •    Make it clear that it is not the names themselves that are "bad," but the way they are used. Don't say, "don't use those words," or "that's a terrible thing to say." Focus on the hurtful intent of the name-calling. Many of these words are used proudly by a group of people and to use them insultingly is to demean this group. 
     •    You may want to point out that if you have friends who are gay/lesbian/bisexual, using these words in a derogatory way is hurtful to more people than they may think. This is investing a more personal note into the conversation - it’s not something that hurts "just them" - it hurts all of us.
     •    If the name-calling continues, refer the students to the administration, since homophobic name-calling is to be dealt with just as racial slurs are dealt with at school sites.
     •    Complete an online incident report to document what happened.

If threats, abuse, or violence is involved, immediately contact the police, and refer the child victim and their family to the police.

Sometimes students know these words have to do with members of the same sex, and it is often vaguely or generally linked to some notion of sexuality, doing something "bad" together or it’s a word for bad people. If this is the case, you may want to approach it by using the words "love" or "care deeply" when referring to the relationship between two people of the same gender who love (or care for) each other. "A word that describes another human being or his/her private relationship is not to be used as an insult at this school." Be careful, especially at the elementary level, not to frame the conversations in terms of sexual relations since parental consent is needed for sex education.

Students may say that they have heard adults use these words in the same way they did or they were told that gay and lesbian people are bad. Do not address that person's opinion. Keep the focus on school being a safe and secure place where everybody is treated with respect and everyone has the right to be themselves, safe and secure without fear of harassment.

Students with Gay/Lesbian Family or Friends In all classrooms there are students with gay or lesbian relatives, friends or acquaintances. They have the right to feel safe and comfortable at school. If they feel disapproval about people in their lives, they won't feel safe.
     •    Read books to the class about family diversity including non-traditional families. 
     •    Have a "family day" in the classroom and invite students to bring family members to school.  This will be a positive experience for all students if they feel safe in the classroom.
Students Perceived as Being Gay Regardless of whether or not students are aware of their sexual orientation at this age, many times people are perceived of as being gay/lesbian and are treated in a negative way. Don't let this go unnoticed.
     •    Deal with the issue as gender stereotyping or address it in the same manner as name-calling.  Remember to focus on the classroom as a safe place for everyone.  Afterwards, continue to monitor how the other students treat the child.
     •    You may need to monitor the student for low self-esteem, depression or anti-social behavior. It may be appropriate to refer the child to the School Resource Team.
     •    Encourage self-esteem projects.
Parents Who Say They Think Their Child May Be Gay or Lesbian Parents may interpret femininity in boys and, to a lesser extent, masculinity in girls as an indication that their child may be, or is, homosexual.
     •    Be positive; they have come to you for support. Resist attempts or suggestions by parents to modify the child's behavior. The behavior which caused the parents to come to you will not be changed by joining the football team or wearing a dress.
     •    Explain that behavior or mannerisms are not necessarily an indication of a person's sexual orientation.
     •    Refer the parents to the principal, counselor, and your local Gay/Lesbian Community Center and PFLAG group for additional resources.
The statements above are not legal advice! They are not intended to be a correct statement of law in your jurisdiction. These tips are intended to give you a very general understanding of what options you may have and choices you may choose to make. Please consult an attorney and your local police department to find out what law applies in your jurisdiction. In all cases of threats, abuse, or violence, immediately contact your local police department.
Click here for more For more information, email or write LAMBDA GLBT Community Services, 216 S Ochoa, El Paso, TX 79901