- James Clark
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NEW YORK, NY — The Jed Foundation (JED) and The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals announced today the release of a new report, Proud and Thriving Report and Framework: Supporting the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ High School, College, and University Students, outlining a series of recommendations to guide individuals, schools, and mental health practitioners in strengthening programs and services to better support the emotional well-being and mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer+ (LGBTQ+) students.
LGBTQ+ high school, college, and university students experience an elevated risk for negative outcomes, as measured by health and academic factors like substance misuse, depression, suicide ideation, academic and co-curricular disengagement, and attrition as compared to non-LGBTQ+ peers. Schools serve as an important environment for academic, social-emotional, and identity development. Therefore, strengthening mental health support systems for LGBTQ+ students is critical, given the central role that schools play in students’ lives. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in many students staying or returning home, has been particularly stressful for LGBTQ+ youth, nearly half of whom report that their families don’t support or know about their gender and/or sexual identity.
Through its work in secondary and higher education, JED has found that most schools lack an effective, intersectional approach to supporting the mental health of LGBTQ+ students. This report and framework provides information and resources to address these issues.
“We are thrilled to share practical and action-oriented strategies and recommendations that schools can use to support the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ young people during this critical time in their lives when they need as much support and affirmation as possible,” said Sofia Pertuz, senior advisor at JED.
“It’s been an honor working with The Jed Foundation to develop a framework to improve the mental health outcomes of LGBTQ+ students from high school through college,” said Chris Woods, former internal coordinator for the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals.
Over the past year, JED engaged a team with expertise in LGBTQ+ adolescent mental health and program design, implementation, and assessment to develop this report and framework for high schools, colleges, and universities, which they can utilize to strengthen systems of support for LGBTQ+ students.
Finally, this report contains three comprehensive and accessible sets of recommendations—one for individuals looking to improve LGBTQ+ students’ mental health from within a secondary or higher education setting; one focused on the actions that high schools, colleges, and universities can take to improve LGBTQ+ students’ mental health; and one specifically for school- or institution-based mental health practitioners, counselors, and counseling centers to help improve their services for LGBTQ+ students.
Some of the findings are listed below:
Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs), LGBTQ+ Resource Centers, and similar organizations help LGBTQ+ students cultivate friendships, process personal and social events collectively, and develop allies. At times, these organizations replaced gaps in support from other school/campus sources.
Despite confidence in their individual skills and experience, only 58% of counselors and 57% of administrators surveyed believed that they received adequate training and supervision to support the needs of LGBTQ+ students. Nearly all said they would welcome the opportunity to receive additional training to better support their LGBTQ+ students.
Parental permission and fear of being outed stood out significantly as barriers to accessing counseling among LGBTQ+ high school students.
For teachers and faculty, lack of cultural competency was associated with heterosexist, monosexist, and cissexist classroom instruction, as well as a scarcity of curricular representation of LGBTQ+ scholarship and topics relevant to the lives of LGBTQ+ students. It was also associated with microaggressions and a negative classroom environment, including the extensive use of deadnames, misgendering, and lack of knowledge with regard to pronoun use by faculty and staff. This behavior added “another layer of stress” to students’ academic experiences, heightening the level of academic risk students faced in academically competitive environments.
About the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals is a member-based organization working towards the liberation of LGBTQ people in higher education. We support individuals who work on campuses to educate and support people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as advocate for more inclusive policies and practices through an intersectional and racial justice framework.
About The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health
The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health is a collaborative fund seeded by Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates to advance social progress in the United States. Further support is provided by The Klarman Family Foundation. The Fund is an initiative of Panorama Global and advised by a renowned set of mental health experts with deep clinical and research expertise and a passion to support youth and communities.