Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual Youths in the Schools

Adopted by the APA Council of Representatives on February 28, 1993.


Whereas society's attitudes, behaviors, and tendency to render lesbian, gay and bisexual persons invisible permeate all societal institutions including the family and school system (Gonsiorek, 1988; Hetrick & Martin, 1988; Ponse, 1978; Uribe & Harbeck, 1992);

Whereas it is a presumption that all persons, including those who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual, have the right to equal opportunity within all public educational institutions;

Whereas current literature suggests that some youths are aware of their status as lesbian, gay, or bisexual persons by early adolescence (Remafedi, 1987; Savin-Williams, 1990; Slater, 1988; Troiden, 1988);

Whereas many lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths and youths perceived to belong to these groups face harassment and physical violence in school environments (Freiberg, 1987; Hetrick & Martin, 1988; Remafedi, 1987; Schaecher, 1988; Uribe & Harbeck, 1992; Whitlock, 1988);

Whereas many lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths are at risk for lowered self-esteem and for engaging in self-injurious behaviors, including suicide (Hetrick & Martin, 1988; Gonsiorek, 1988; Savin-Williams, 1990; Harry, 1989; Gibson, 1989);

Whereas gay male and bisexual youths are at an increased risk of HIV infection (Savin-Williams, 1992);

Whereas lesbian, gay and bisexual youths of color have additional challenges to their self-esteem as a result of the negative consequences of discrimination based on both sexual orientation and ethnic/racial minority status (Garnets & Kimmel, 1991); 

Whereas lesbian, gay and bisexual youths with physical or mental disabilities are at increased risk due to the negative consequence of societal prejudice toward persons with mental or physical disabilities (Pendler & Hingsburger, 1991; Hingsburger & Griffiths, 1986);

Whereas lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths who are poor or working class may face additional risks (Gordon, Schroeder & Abramo, 1990);

Whereas psychologists affect policies and practices within educational environments;

Whereas psychology promotes the individual's development of personal identity including the sexual orientation of all individuals;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists shall take a leadership role in promoting societal and familial attitudes and behaviors that affirm the dignity and rights, within educational environments, of all lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths, including those with physical or mental disabilities and from all ethnic/racial backgrounds and classes;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists support providing a safe and secure educational atmosphere in which all youths, including lesbian, gay and bisexual youths, may obtain an education free from discrimination, harassment, violence, and abuse, and which promotes an understanding and acceptance of self;

Therefore be it resolved that American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists encourage psychologists to develop and evaluate interventions that foster nondiscriminatory environments, lower risk for HIV infection, and decrease self-injurious behaviors in lesbian, gay and bisexual youths;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists shall advocate efforts to ensure the funding of basic and applied research on and scientific evaluations of interventions and programs designed to address the issues of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths in the schools, and programs for HIV prevention targeted at gay and bisexual youths;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Psychological Association and the National Association of School Psychologists shall work with other organizations in efforts to accomplish these ends (DeLeon, 1993, p. 782). 

References

Freiberg, P. (1987, September). Sex education and the gay issue: What are they teaching about us in the schools? The Advocate, 42-48.

Garnets, L., & Kimmel, D. (1991). Lesbian and gay male dimensions in the psychological study of human diversity. In J. Goodchilds (Ed.), Psychological Perspectives on Human Diversity in America (pp 143-192). Washington, DC, American Psychological Association.

Gonsiorek, J.C. (1988). Mental health issues of gay and lesbian adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Heath Care, 9, 114-122.

Gordon, B.N., Schroeder, C.S., & Abramo, J.M. (1990). Age and social class differences in children's knowledge of sexuality. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 19 (1), 33-43.

Gibson, P. (1989). Gay male and lesbian youth suicide. In M. Feinleib, (Ed.), Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, Washington, DC, Department of Health and Human Services. (Vol. 3, pp 110-142).

Harry, J. (1989). Sexual identity issues. In M. Feinleib, (Ed.), Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, Vol. 2, pp 131-142. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services. .

Hetrick, E.S., & Martin, A.D. (1988). Developmental issues and their resolution for gay and lesbian adolescents. In E. Coleman (Ed.) Integrated identity for gay men and lesbians: Psychotherapeutic approaches for emotional well-being (pp 25-43). Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press.

Hingsburger, D., & Griffiths, D. (1986). Dealing with sexuality in a community residential service. Psychiatric Aspects of Mental Retardation Reviews, 5 (12), 63-67. 

Pendler, B., & Hingsburger, D. (1991). Sexuality: Dealing with parents. Sexuality and Disability, 9, 123-130.

Ponse, B. (1978). Identities in the lesbian world: The social construction of the self. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Remafedi, G. (1987). Adolescent homosexuality: Psychosocial and medical implications. Pediatrics. 79, 331-337.

Savin-Williams, R.C. (1990). Gay and lesbian youth: Expressions of identity. New York, NY: Hemisphere.

Schaecher, R. (1988, Winter). Stresses on lesbian and gay adolescents. Independent Schools, 29-35.

Slater, B.R. (1988). Essential issues in working with lesbian and gay male youths. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 19, 226-235.

Troiden, R.R. (1988). Gay and lesbian identity: A sociological study. Dix Hills, NY: General Hall.

Uribe, V., & Harbeck, K.M. (1992). Addressing the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth: The origins of PROJECT 10 and school-based intervention. In K. Harbeck (Ed.). Coming out of the classroom closet: Gay and lesbian students, teachers and curriculum (pp. 9-28). Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press.

Whitlock, K. (Ed.). (1988). Bridges of Respect: Creating support for lesbian and gay youth. Philadelphia, PA: American Friends Service Committee.

Please cite this policy statement as:
DeLeon, P. H. (1993). Proceedings of the American Psychological Association, Incorporated, for the year 1992; Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Council of Representatives August 13 and 16, 1992, and February 26-28, 1993, Washington, D.C. American Psychologist, 48, 745-788.