October is LGBTQ History Month, and the Indiana Youth Institute is raising awareness about the crucial role teachers and youth workers play in creating a supportive environment for LGBTQ+ students.
“As of just a year ago, Indiana was home to over 43,000 LGBTQ+ youth, ages thirteen to seventeen”, Indiana Youth Inistitute President and CEO, Tami Silverman said. “Those are youth that self identify, so we think that’s probably a low number.”
Silverman says support and awareness of LGBTQ+ students in school is crucial to good learning and healthy development.
“We want to make sure that we’re celebrating and acknowledging students spend a lot of time in school”, Silverman said. “When you do have those supportive environments, which is what we’re going for, we know it means fewer skipped classes, fewer missed days of school and lower dropout rates”, she said.
Silverman added LGBTQ+ students of color are at even more of a disadvantage when it comes to bullying and harrassment, but credits Indiana schools who have adopted anti-bullying policies. A recent study by the Indiana Youth Inistitute concluded LGBTQ+ students in positive school climates were at lower risk of depression and suicidal tendencies, and are more open about their identity at school. The Indiana Youth Institute just completed a three-part study on LGBTQ+ youth, including school environments, mental and physical health and child welfare.