(Washington, DC) – Today, as the District continues to celebrate and recognize Pride Month, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced a new set of investments to ensure that District LGBTQ+ youth feel safe, connected and supported in school.
“We know that the best learning environments for our young people are environments where they feel safe and supported to be themselves,” said Mayor Bowser. “Especially at a time when young people nationwide are observing and experiencing an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, these investments will help ensure our schools are places where all students feel loved, supported and safe.”
OSSE will build on its existing programing and invest $764,000 in federal stimulus funds over three years to:
- Create resources and provide additional professional learning opportunities for District educators;
- Develop inclusive support communities;
- Expand topical health trainings for teachers and youth; and
- Support DC Health’s youth-focused, school-based programs in middle and high schools.
“Many LGBTQ+ youth are negatively impacted as a result of social stigma and a lack of awareness, competency, support and resources among adults entrusted with their development,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. “We must do better for our students. Through these investments, we hope to equip our schools with the knowledge and resources they need to create more supportive environments that are inclusive of the physical and mental health and social emotional needs of LGBTQ+ students.”
As part of this multi-year investment, OSSE will also complete an internal review of its policies as they relate to local education agencies and ensure those policies reflect national standards for supporting and educating LGBTQ+ students.
OSSE has already partnered with a local organization, Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), to offer free virtual professional learning sessions aimed at providing educators with foundational knowledge and guidance in creating more deeply supportive classroom environments for LGBTQ+ students.
According to the DC Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which provides a broad analysis of youth health risk behaviors, LGBTQ+ students and DC youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender disproportionately experience health risks such as suicidal thoughts and sexual violence.
For more information, visit OSSE’s website.