Creating Safe and Supportive School Environments for LGBTQ Youth

Boston Public Schools

Boston Public Schools, with CDC funding, led expansive efforts to create safer and more supportive learning environments for LGBTQ youth in schools.

Boston Public Schools (BPS) prioritized a subset of 20 high schools to expand student-led inclusive clubs (sometimes called Gay-Straight Alliances, Genders and Sexualities Alliances, or GSAs) between 2014 and 2018.

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In just three years, BPS expanded the percentage of these schools that had a GSA from 45% to 95%, ensuring access to GSAs for more than 11,000 students.

BPS offered support and communication to help schools develop new GSAs or sustain existing GSAs. This included the distribution of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) related posters, stickers, badges, and calendars, which schools displayed to make spaces more inclusive.

BPS also designated a staff member to provide district-wide LGBTQ-related support and training, including the organization of an LGBTQ Summit where students, advisors, allies, and community partners came together with the common goal of creating safer, more welcoming and affirming school environments for all youth.

BPS promoted inclusive schools by leveraging community partnerships with organizations, including Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network of Massachusetts (GLSEN MA) and Boston Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (Boston GLASS).

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GLSEN MA and Boston GLASS provided professional development and coaching to administrators, educators, and staff to ensure that efforts to create safe, supportive, and inclusive schools were appropriate, accurate, and effective when implemented school-wide.