Inclusive Practices Help All Students Thrive

LGBTQ youths in the pride parade

Adolescents are experiencing a mental health crisis.

Youth were struggling with their mental health before the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ).

Recent CDC data show that adolescents are experiencing widespread emotional distress, worsened by stressors experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic affected all students, but it did not affect all students equally. While poor mental health is common in youth, it is reported far more often by LGBTQ youth.

In 2021, 2 out of every 5 students felt emotional distress in the past year.
LGBQ students were 5 times more likely to attempt suicide during the pandemic.
All Adolescents Do Better in LGBTQ-Inclusive Schools.

Schools can help address the adolescent mental health crisis by implementing policies and practices that support LGBTQ youth. CDC research shows that inclusive practices benefit LGBTQ students and heterosexual students, with heterosexual students seeing greater benefit in some risk categories. The reverse is also true. Restrictive LGBTQ policies and practices negatively impact heterosexual students as well.

When schools implement LGBTQ-supportive policies and practices, all students experience:
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    Less emotional distress
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    Less violence and harassment
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    Less suicidal thoughts and behaviors

The more policies and practices a school implements the better the student health outcomes.

A group of LGBTQ Youth

LGBTQ-supportive policies and practices positively affect a school’s environment, making a safer and more supportive space for ALL students. They include:

Strengthening Staff

Gender and Sexuality Alliances

Strengthening Staff

Professional development on inclusivity

Strengthening Staff

Identifying safe spaces

Implementing anti-harassment policies

Implementing anti-harassment policies

CDC’s School Practices that Work

CDC’s What Works In Schools program combines safe and supportive school environments with quality health education and referrals to health services to create a three-strategy, school-based approach to protecting and promoting adolescent health.

Schools that implement What Works In Schools see positive outcomes on the number of students experiencing violence, drug use, risky sex behaviors, and poor mental health.