How To Improve Schools For LGBT Students

By C. Blair

How To Improve Schools For LGBT Students

Despite people’s treatment of those who are LGBT, things are  beginning to change for the better. LGBT students still face high amounts of bullying and harassment. Those who are or perceived to be LGBT are twice as likely to be bullied in school than those who are not. Plus 82 percent of transgender youth report being bullied. This bullying has lead to an estimated 64 percent of those who identify as LGBT to not feel safe in school. It may seem like it is impossible to fix this ,but studies say that with a few edits to our schools, we can not only help LGBT students but all students. Since so many are going back to school there now, there is no better time to discuss how we can improve our schools and hopefully put a stop to bullying.

Make School Curriculums More Inclusive

Even though the topic is very controversial, researchers have found that incorporating LGBT related topics into everyday lessons will positively affect the overall environment and improves all students’ educational outcomes. The easiest class to incorporate inclusive lessons into, is history classes. We teach students the roles that LGBT people have played in history as well as the historical oppression they have faced. By doing this, we take away the negative stigmas and replace it with real life faces. In addition it will help by allowing LGBT students to connect with what is being taught, give everyone a better understanding of the world, and optimize the potential of what they are learning.

Here are some of the many ways we can make our curriculums more inclusive:

  • Bring up how historical figures like Alexander the Great, Eleanor Roosevelt, William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, etc. were/could have been gay.
  • Do lessons on lesser known LGBT people who played a role in history like Alan Turing (who invented the computer).
  • Do a lesson on the Stonewall Riots, Matthew Shepard’s death, or another LGBT historical event.
  • Read a book which includes a LGBT character.
  • Law classes can do lessons about the battle for marriage equality and the Supreme Court’s ruling.
  • Provide accurate and relevant sex ed information. Only 5 percent receive positive information on LGBT issues in health class.
  • Just talk with them about the LGBT community.

Another great way to improve a school’s climate is to add in a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) or some other related club. One study done by GLSEN showed that when a school has a GSA, the amount of homophobic/transphobic remarks heard in school drops 18 percent. They also will feel safer. Often LGBT youth need some kind of safe space where they could feel accepted for who they are and this club is designed to be just that. It will also allow them to meet other students who are going through the same thing that they are. Nationally 53 percent of secondary school teachers agree that having a GSA will make schools safer, but only 22 percent of LGBT secondary school students have access to one. Those who are African American are even less likely to have access to one, especially when the school is predominantly African American. Those who live in the south and small towns/rural areas are least likely to have a GSA in their schools.

Sadly with several states having what are known as “No Promo Homo” or “Don’t Say Gay” laws these things could be even harder to accomplish. These laws forbid teachers and schools from discussing LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS awareness in a positive light, if they are even allowed to discuss them at all. Some actually require teachers to portray LGBT people in a negative or inaccurate way. They also limit or even eliminate the amount of resources and safe spaces that are available to students. Students who go to these types of schools are more likely to hear homophobic remarks from teachers and report experiencing ineffective intervention from school staff. These harmful laws need to be removed in order to make way for a better school experience.

Bullying Policies And Training Staff Members

When it comes down to it, in order to stop bullying we must have strong anti-bullying policies put in place. Even though many schools do indeed have some kind of anti-bullying policy, some may need to update theirs or add in specific guidance on homophobic/transphobic bullying. While things like having inclusive curriculum or getting a GSA may be hard to get everyone behind, most would be all for a zero tolerance for bullying policy. It could help if something is added on the school’s website so that they could anonymously report bullying as well. These guidelines, when used properly, will cut down bullying up to 25 percent. It will also send a public message that the school stands behind it’s LGBT students.

Once these policies are in place the next step would be to train staff members. Everyone from teachers to the principal will need to not only be trained on how to implement the new policies but on how to better address when bullying occurs. You may assume all staff members would know how to handle bullying, but this is not always the case. About 31 percent of LGBT students who reported being bullied said that the staff made no effort to respond. 61 percent did not report it at all. If the staff become LGBT allies this would allow students who were bullied to feel more confident about reporting bullying and lets them know that something will be done. Some training should also be done to help teachers/staff know what to do when someone comes out as LGBT. Specifically the school as a whole should be prepared for when someone comes out as transgender or gender nonconforming.

In Conclusion

It may seem like it is impossible to put an end to bullying, but if our schools are willing to make some changes we can help improve schools for LGBT students, as well as those who are not LGBT. One of the first things that needs to be done is to repeal “No Promo Homo” and “Don’t Say Gay” laws in states that have them. Teachers should try to at least, to an attempted degree, to incorporate LGBT topics into what they teach. Students can help by requesting to form a GSA or something like it. If a school receives government funding and has another non-curricular club then they have to allow a GSA under the Federal Equal Access Act. Schools need step up and fix their bullying policies, plus train staff members. Doing these things may not eradicate bullying right away, but with a little time they will make schools safer places for LGBT youth.


  1. LGBT Bullying Statistics
  2. Transgender Bullying: A National Epidemic
  3. Creating A LGBT-Inclusive Climate
  4. The Necessity of LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum
  5. Sex Ed Needs to Better Include the Issues of L.G.B.T. Students
  6. GLSEN GSA Research Brief
  7. “No Promo Homo” and “Don’t Say Gay” Laws
  8. “No Promo Homo” Laws
  9. Bullying Statistics
  10. GSA Network: Legal Resources 
Please follow and like us:
0

Ryan Cassata: One World…One Love…One Community

Revised and Updated from original transmuseplanet post July, 2017

In 2009, Ryan Cassata began making headlines in the LGBTQ community when he appeared on the Larry King show, and interviewed by Dr. Drew. The young musician and public speaker had recently begun telling his story of gender identity disorder. Ryan is extremely vocal against bullying.¹ He began touring the United States, playing at LGBT Pride music festivals.  On June 21st of 2013, Ryan performed at the Warped Tour’s Ernie Ball’s Battle of the Bands, which was part of an online competition.

It was during the competition for the ‘Battle of the Bands’, where fans had to vote for those chosen to play in the acclaimed tour, that I was introduced to Ryan Cassata.  I read his story, his views on being a transgender teen in America, and then listened to his music. After hearing the first song, I quickly had to backspace and cast my vote for this outspoken John Lennon of our genderation. I went back to hearing more of his songs on his You Tube page,² and knew immediately, I had to have a chat with this revolutionary in our community.  

To this day, when I hear his song ‘Hands of Hate’, sung with such passion, I can’t help but be boiled over in tears by the end. You can feel his pain, that has resulted from his experiences with hate. Reminding many of us that have tried to forget those turbulent years of high school bullying, that the struggle for lgtqia youth, sadly persist more than ever.  Recalling to mind,  those fallen angels like Leelah Alcorn, who decided to end the pain rather than endure anymore bullying. 

RyanCassata.com

Once introduced to his story, you can’t help but be inspired by his drive, and determination. That passion, triggered by his own stories of bullying, and struggles with gender identity. His desire for a world of one love, filled with unity can only rekindle that inner child in us all, that still strives to see a world of justice, peace, and love for all.

The momentum behind Ryan Cassata, his music, and mission, is contagious and growing.  His fans are now in the hundreds of thousands around the world. He has become a brand;  launching his own clothing line, respected advocate and role model for countless youth.  Spreading a message of peace, respect and one world love for all mankind.

This is one fascinating young man we have to get to know.

TMP:  Ryan, you have done so many positive things in the world at such a young age. What drives you to want to make a difference in the world?

Ryan Cassata: Thank you.  There is so much ignorance and hatred that can be cured with tolerance. There’s a lot of hate towards the LGBTQ community. I think it would be crazy if I just sat back and let all that hate continue. The time is now to stand up and get things moving towards equality and a better future.
  

TMP: When you were just out of high school, at a time when most Cis-kids are just thinking about enjoying their summer before college, you were being awarded the Harvey Milk Memorial Award in 2011.³  What did such an honor mean to you, and what advice would you give to other Trans-kids who are fighting for equality?

Ryan Cassata: Thank you. When I first started changing things in my high school, I was changing things in order to make things easier for myself. I had to change certain things so that I could survive high school. I skipped 11th grade; during my senior year, I made it my mission to educate my peers and teachers, so they could pass on the message of acceptance. I wanted  my school to accept transgender students by the time I ended school. I knew that if I worked really hard, I could make a difference and make it so much easier for someone else whose transgender that would come along and walk the hallways of my school after me. I did make it easier and I won the Harvey Milk Memorial Award upon graduating high school. This was very symbolic;  I was following in his footsteps and doing good in the world. I started doing a lot of volunteer work in the eighth grade. My advice to other people who want to make a difference is to get involved. Volunteer at your local center and if you don’t have one or can’t volunteer for them, then speak out at your school. I used do speeches for the Long Island center and I also did speeches and educating within and outside of my school…on my own. It became my mission as a young teen to change things and I did.

TMP: I’ve been listening to your music for weeks since we first spoke, and I have to say there is not a song that isn’t inspiring, and makes me hopeful about the world. It’s often hard for a Trans-person to stay so hopeful about things, faced with so much discrimination and hate. How do you turn pain into hope, and make such inspiring music?

Ryan Cassata: I always try to find the good in things and in people. I think everyone has a little bit of good and a little bit of love in their heart. I think with education it is easier to make people understand minorities. When you change your perspective to hope, life will be much more positive.

TMP: When did you start performing and writing music?

Ryan Cassata:  I was singing and making up songs all though out my childhood.  I started actually like, writing music down on a piece of paper and playing it again later when I was about 12. I started guitar at 6 years old, piano at 12, and I started singing seriously at 14.

 I had my first performance when I was about 13. My first band was  called “The Fenetiks.” When that band broke up, I started playing out solo and I loved it.

TMP:  With your many television appearances and interviews for main stream media, is there one that stands out as being the most positive moment for you, whose show and why?

Ryan Cassata: One of my favorite media moments was being interviewed by Long Island Pulse Magazine. They were so open to being educated about the transgender community and they actually cared about what I was doing,my speeches and my music. They didn’t make a being Trans*, a ‘freak show.’  They treated me as a normal person and they wrote an incredible article about me. It’s my favorite so far.

TMP: Your revolutionary spirit is very contagious, but many are bogged down in just trying to survive. Any suggestions on things we all could do in our everyday lives that could make a difference towards spreading universal respect, and equality?

Ryan Cassata: Smile more. Smile at strangers. Go out and do good. Volunteer. Be nice to others.

TMP: What are your hopes and dreams for the Transgender community, and for all of mankind?

Ryan Cassata: I hope the community will become less depressed, and that the suicide rate will decline. I want the transgender community to be seen as another group of people and not a taboo. I want society to accept us.

TMP: You seem to have so many projects going on at the moment. Anything in particular you’d really like the readers of Transmuseplanet to check out, that you are currently working on?

Ryan Cassata: Right now I am working on starting a chest binder fundraiser to raise money for ‘IN A BIND’.   More info about this will be released soon.

TMP:  Could you tell us about your latest EP?

Ryan Cassata: My upcoming EP will be released on September 13th on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. It has eight songs. It’s a very deep album and I am hoping many people will listen and learn from it.

TMP:   Since your touring all over the country, what is your assessment of the level of understanding and support for the Transgender Community in your travels?

 Ryan Cassata: So far, San Francisco is the most tolerant and accepting place that I have been too. I feel safe here. I don’t feel safe on the east coast or in my hometown.

TMP: If you had one chance to tell the world, and knew everyone would hear you at once. What would you like them to know about Ryan Cassata?

Ryan Cassata: I want to change the way society thinks, to be more accepting of the LGBTQ community and to other minorities. I will do anything to spread awareness about this and make peace come sooner.

Courtesy of Ryan Cassata’s 2016 EP Shine

Ryan Cassata is definitely a man on a mission to uplift mankind. He is not only an inspiration but an example of the next genderation of trans activist. He is a reminder of what we all fight for; the day all lgbtqia youth can envision a future of  simply enjoying school, planning for college, and a life afterwards without fear. 

To change the world,  maybe is what every young soul sets out to do, but his story can also be an inspiration to old souls, that we still can.

Anne Frank once said, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”  Ryan, and the drive of many trans youth gives us hope, that one day we can see that good in the world.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


  1. Transgender students face much higher levels of harassment and
    violence than LGB students. And these high levels of victimization
    result in these students missing more school, receiving lower grades and feeling isolated and not part of the school community according to the study The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools‘  by GLSEN.org and written by Emily A. Greytak, M.S.Ed., Joseph G. Kosciw, and  Ph.D.Elizabeth M. Diaz
  2. Ryan Cassata’s You Tube Channel                   
  3. Harvey Milk Foundation:  Harvey Milk Foundation works for equality in the Americas, and around the globe.            

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
0