DASH Partner Update – January 2022
Fostering safety and supportiveness in schools is key to promoting adolescent health and well-being. Safe and supportive school environments are particularly important for LGBTQ youth, who are at greater risk for negative psychosocial health outcomes, such as experiences of violence, high-risk substance use, poor mental health, and suicide-related behaviors. As our partners in this work, I know that I don’t have to tell you that creating connection, safety, and supportiveness in schools has never been more important.
As we look for ways that schools can nurture protective factors amidst and beyond the pandemic, I want to highlight a CDC study recently published in LGBTQ Healthexternal icon. These analyses demonstrate the positive impact that implementing school policies and practices supportive of LGBTQ youth has on the psychosocial health of youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) and their heterosexual peers.
LGBTQ-supportive school policies and practices that promote protective factors include:
- Gender and Sexuality Alliances or Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs)
- Safe spaces where LGBTQ youth can get support from school staff
- Policies prohibiting sexual and gender identity-based harassment
- Professional development for staff on LGBTQ-related issues
- LGBTQ-inclusive curricula
- Access to LGBTQ-friendly social, psychological, and health services outside of school
In schools that implement LGBTQ-supportive policies and practices, we see improved mental health outcomes for LGB youth, and their heterosexual peers. For instance, in schools with GSAs, LGB and heterosexual students were less likely to report suicide-related behaviors. In schools that encouraged staff to attend professional development on LGBTQ-focused issues, LGB students were less likely to attempt suicide and heterosexual students were less likely to report persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Importantly but not surprisingly, increasing the sum of LGBTQ-supportive policies and practices in schools was linked to lower odds of suicide-related behaviors among LGB students and positively impacted the psychosocial health of heterosexual students.
Schools must be places where LGBTQ youth feel safe and supported. This study reinforces the fact that we have strategies to do that, and provides further support for schools to do this work. We look forward to continuing to partner with you to ensure LGBTQ youth are supported in schools in the ways they need to thrive.
Kathleen A. Ethier, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Adolescent and School Health
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What's New at CDC?
- Quarantine and Isolation Guidance – K-12 Schools
CDC recently updated guidance for K-12 schools to align with the updated quarantine and isolation guidance. Updated web content includes:
- Social and Emotional Climate and Learning Resources for Parents, Families, and Schools
CDC Healthy Schools has created a new tip sheet for parents and families and a new toolkit for schools to heighten awareness of and improve communication about social and emotional climate and learning.
- Examining the Relationship Between LGBTQ-Supportive School Health Policies and Practices and Psychosocial Health Outcomes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Studentsexternal icon
This study highlights the positive impact that implementing school policies and practices supportive of LGBTQ youth has on the psychosocial health of youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) and their heterosexual peers.
- Risk Behaviors and Experiences Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness—Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 23 U.S. States and 11 Local School Districts, 2019external icon
This study uses 2019 youth risk behavior survey (YRBS) data from 23 states and 11 local school districts to examine differences in experiences of violence, substance use, suicide risk, and sexual risk among youth experiencing homelessness compared to their stably housed peers. Compared with stably housed students, students experiencing homelessness were twice as likely to report misuse of prescription pain medicine, three times as likely to be threatened or injured with a weapon at school, and three times as likely to report attempting suicide.
- The CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health Approach to School-Based Sexual Health Education: 3 Decades in Reviewexternal icon
This paper chronicles the historical innovation by DASH and its federal, national, and state/local education and health partners to advance STI/HIV and unintended pregnancy prevention through schools. It documents past successes in strengthening program-specific guidance to prevent STI/HIV and unintended pregnancy; describes current elements-based approaches shaping sexual health education in schools; and highlights future priorities to expand the evidence base for implementation science and dissemination.
- How Right Now? Supporting Mental Health and Resilience Amid COVID-19pdf iconexternal icon
The How Right Now communication initiative (HRN) was developed to facilitate resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. This paper describes how HRN’s disproportionately affected audiences (adults aged 65 and older and their caregivers, adults with preexisting physical and mental health conditions, adults experiencing violence, and adults experiencing economic distress) describe and discuss emotional resilience, what they need to be resilient, and what factors contribute to the perceptions of their ability to “bounce back” from the conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 9-12: Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine Annual Meeting:
- Sanjana Pampati is presenting a poster titled, “Foregone health care among U.S. adolescents and children during the COVID-19 pandemic— COVID Experiences Surveys, Wave 2, March–May, 2021”
- Dr. Nicole Liddon is facilitating a workshop titled, “Adolescent sexual and reproductive health services via telehealth: Supporting implementation in a post-pandemic world”
- Drs. Natalie Wilkins and Nicole Liddon are leading a presentation titled, “The role of school and family connectedness in promoting well-being and preventing violence among adolescents.”
Updates from Partners
- Department of Education Guidance on Staying In School In-Person
This new resourcepdf iconexternal icon from the Department of Education highlights four important strategies to keep students and staff safe, healthy and ready for in-person learning throughout the 2021-22 school year and beyond.
- National PTA: New National Survey Found Parents More Optimistic
National PTA released findings of a national survey on how parents’ mindsets, expectations and concerns around COVID-19 safety guidance and protocols have evolved since their children’s return to school. Overall, parents reported an increase in their child’s positive emotions and a decrease in negative ones since August. Survey findings are detailed in NPTA’s press releaseexternal icon.
- National School Counseling Week
National School Counseling Week 2022external icon (#NSCW22) is Feb. 7-11, 2022, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems. National School Counseling Week, sponsored by American School Counselor Association (ASCA), highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career. The 2022 theme is School Counseling: Better Together. ASCA developed a promotional toolkitpdf iconexternal icon with more information and sample messages.
- The GSA Study Report
GLSEN’s recently published report, The GSA Study: Results of National Surveys About Students’ and Advisors’ Experiences in Gender and Sexuality Alliance Clubsexternal icon, is the first comprehensive report on the experiences of students and advisors in Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) across the United States.
- HRC’s Time to THRIVE Conference
The 9th annual Time to THRIVE will take place on February 8-10, 2022. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association present the annual national conference to promote safety, inclusion, and well-being for LGBTQ+ youth…everywhere. Learn more or register hereexternal icon.
In the Field
To better support bilingual students and their families, Seattle Public Schools collected and translated enrollment documents for School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) into the top five languages spoken across the district. The translated documents will be sent home to almost 53,000 students and their families. They will also be made available at each SBHC location.
- February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month, and Black History Month
- February 7: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
- February 7-11: National School Counseling Week
- March is Women’s History Month
- March 10: National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
- March 21-25: LGBTQ Health Awareness Week
- March 31: International Transgender Day of Visibility