Education and LGBTQ+ Youth Development

Kimberly Fuller

Youth spend the majority of their lives involved in schools and associated activities. Concurrent with social and emotional development, LGBTQ+ youths’ sexual and gender identities are evolving. Some LGBTQ+ youth face challenges with underrepresentation in school curricula, lack of educational programming, and discrimination, harassment, and oppression by peers, teachers, and parents. However, with the changing cultural narrative towards acceptance, LGBTQ+ youth are finding more than ever before environments that are accepting, access to LGBTQ+ tailored-services, and opportunities to connect with other youth through GSAs and other youth programming. This chapter focuses on the current social and educational barriers to healthy LGBTQ+ youth development, such as inequities and injustice, in addition to LGBTQ+ youths’ resiliency, and the role of supportive adults in facilitating positive youth development.

Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize the steps of coming out and the range of responses for gender and sexuality identities.
  2. Differentiate components of supportive and inclusive schools and those needing improvements.
  3. Assess resources for LGBTQ+ youth facing discrimination, oppression, and marginalization.
  4. Identify health and education disparities for minoritized gender and sexuality identities.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons experience significant growth and development through youth and adolescence. Many of the important milestones, including identity recognition, coming out, and transitioning can occur during these years. Positive family, educator, and peer responses towards LGBTQ+ persons can set the framework for healthy development, while rejection can lead to several negative mental, emotional, and physical health and educational outcomes. The following chapter describes identity development for LGBQ and T individuals, family response, the role of educational establishments on development, inclusive school practices, and other important aspects of the lives of youth and adolescents. Each aspect of development and each environmental and social system within the lives of the LGBTQ+ youth can become protective factors at a time when acceptance is still evolving throughout the United States.