Tag Archives: High School

Lesbian, bisexual girls face higher odds of being suspended or expelled, say researchers

A study into the differing experiences among lesbian and bi pupils in the American school system has found an alarming disparity in the way it treats its LGBT+ and straight pupils.

According to the report, young lesbians and bisexual girls are 95% more likely to be disciplined at schools than their straight peers, according to a 15-year survey of some 5,000 American families.

But the report’s author, Princeton sociologist Joel Mittleman, says that only about a third of the risk can be explained by students’ misbehavior. He believes discrimination by faculty and administrators could be a real factor.

“The results suggest that sexual orientation itself may shape teens’ experiences in very different ways for girls versus boys,” Mittleman said in a statement. “My results are consistent, for example, with recent research showing that sexual minority girls are dramatically overrepresented in the juvenile justice system in a way that sexual minority boys are not.”

Overall teens attracted to the same sex have 29% higher odds of being taken out of school. But when broken down by gender, girls experienced 95% higher odds while gay/bi boys had zero increased risk of discipline. (The study did not examine other factors such as race, family life, or academic achievement.)

Another recent study, out of Tel Aviv University, found that people often stereotype bisexual women as “confused,” “disagreeable,” and “neurotic.” So we shouldn’t be surprised if school staff are primed to see queer girls as problems.

Even if, and perhaps especially, if they’re retaliating against a bully.

Sociologists say they’re only beginning to explore how sexual orientation impacts interactions with institutional authorities: Lesbians and bisexual women are also overrepresented in the American prison system—representing 42% of the female prison population, but only 4.4% of the female general population.


Schools Are Failing LGBTQ Students In More Ways Than Just Bathrooms

We know that many American schools are failing LGBTQ students. After all, suicide rates for LGBTQ students are outrageous. One out of every 6 LGBTQ students in America seriously considers suicide each year, and of the nearly 50% of transgender adults who’ve made suicide attempts, 92% of those attempts were before age 25. Clearly schools are failing these students somewhere along the line.

In early 2017, Trump denied federal protections for transgender students to use their bathroom of choice. And, given his Secretary of Education, many students aren’t too hopeful about the prospects of bathroom choice returning, especially in conservative states such as North Carolina, who pioneered the HB-2 “Bathroom Bill.”

But the problems go deeper than just bathrooms.

CUNY’s revolutionary What’s Your Issue? project championed public school research based on parameters set by LGBTQ and gender non-conforming (GNC) youth of color, who are often the hardest hit by anti-LGBTQ legislation and lack of legal and anti-bullying protections for LGBTQ youth. This project collected more than 6,000 surveys from LGBTQ/GNC youth of color all across America in order to paint an honest – if painful – picture of LGBTQ life for the most vulnerable students.

Here’s what they found.

1) LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to be sent to juvenile detention as their straight peers. In the US, more than 300,000 LGBTQ youth are detained or arrested each year. But…

2) Of that 300,000, 60% are Black or Latino, even though only 24.8% of people in the US are black or Latino.

3) Forty percent of girls in juvenile detention identify as LGBTQ/GNC.

4) GNC female students (i.e. cisgender women who dress more masculinely, such as butch or stud women, or transgender women who don’t look “female” enough to appease cisgender adults) of color are the most affected by harassment, school policing and dropout rates.

5) LGBTQ youth of color are twice as likely as straight youth of color to either drop out or be forced out of school.

6) Masculine-presenting female students of color are most likely to be aggressively over-disciplined. They have the highest rate of suspensions, and they are the group most likely to be handcuffed and frisked by school police and security guards.

To learn more about the study and its detrimental effects on students, read the Black Girls Matter report and learn more about the What’s Your Issue? project.

Victory: Student Wins Censorship Battle Over Lesbian T-Shirt

A student from Manteca, California has settled a federal free speech lawsuit with her high school.

16 year old, Taylor Victor was sent home for refusing to change her T-Shirt, which read “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian”.

When she first wore this shirt to Sierra High School last year, school administrators sent her home. They said it was an inappropriate “on the grounds that she was not allowed to display her ‘sexuality’ on clothing.”

After confirming that the shirt did not violate the dress code, the school then told her that she was not allowed to “display personal choices and beliefs” on clothing because it could be viewed as “disruptive” or “gang-related”.

The Assistant Principal Dan Beukelman also told Victor that her shirt was “promoting sex” and displayed an “open invitation to sex”.

Now, the district has agreed to amend the dress code and clarify that students are allowed to wear clothing supporting their or their classmates’ personal identities. This includes race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.

Victor’s attorney, Linnea Nelson, said

Being a lesbian is an important part of Taylor’s identity, and she shouldn’t be censored from talking about it at school. Students don’t leave their rights to free speech at the schoolhouse gates. At the end of the day, the law on this is very clear, that public schools can’t censor the personal beliefs of students just because they think it might be controversial.”

She says Victor will also get $1 from the school district to represent the harm she suffered.

But more importantly of course, from now on she will be able to express herself and to be herself without fear of punishment.

Victor said that she is happy after “months of fighting this censorship battle.”

School Teacher Bullied By Principle Because She Is A Lesbian

A longtime city public-school teacher, Roseanne Kaplan-DiNola says she her homophobic colleagues made her life a living hell on a daily basis.

Mrs Kaplan-DiNola — a teacher at PS 207 in Howard Beach, Queens, since 1992 — claims in her suit that former Principal Linda Spadaro and Assistant Principal Eileen Davies “openly berated her for her ‘lifestyle choices.’”

Talking to The New York Post, she said

I used to pray to God before work and ask to not be singled out in some terrible way,”

From the moment they started working together, Mrs Kaplan-DiNola says that Spadaro told her “that she was not comfortable with her lifestyle preferences and wanted her out” of the school.

Rosanne Kaplan-DiNola DOE lawsuit. Longtime public elementary school teacher Rosanne Kaplan-DiNola says her supervisors made her work life a living hell because she's a lesbian. The Queens teacher says Principal Linda Spadaro and AP Eileen Davies "openly berated her for her 'lifestyle choices.'" Kaplan-DiNola's worked at PS 207 since 1992. PICTURED: Rosanne Kaplan-DiNola (53, in green) at her Long Island home with wife Sherri Kaplan-DiNola (49, in black) and their 16 year old son Jonathan.

Rosanne Kaplan-DiNola DOE lawsuit. Longtime public elementary school teacher Rosanne Kaplan-DiNola says her supervisors made her work life a living hell because she’s a lesbian. The Queens teacher says Principal Linda Spadaro and AP Eileen Davies “openly berated her for her ‘lifestyle choices.'” Kaplan-DiNola’s worked at PS 207 since 1992. PICTURED: Rosanne Kaplan-DiNola (53, in green) at her Long Island home with wife Sherri Kaplan-DiNola (49, in black) and their 16 year old son Jonathan.

She also said that when her son was being bullied at school because his parents were gay, her boss blamed her, saying:

Well, what did you expect, having kids as a gay parent? It is an abomination against God, and you made this child a victim of your poor choices.”

The suit also claims Davies called the teacher a “f—ing dyke” during a disagreement about parent-teacher conferences.

However, after she complained to her district superintendent, Mrs Kaplan-DiNola said that rather than receive support, she was swiftly demoted.

Kaplan-DiNola’s lawyer, Steven Morelli, added.

The comments and the treatment were obviously incredibly offensive, yet the Department of Education has failed to take any action whatever.”

Mrs Kaplan-DiNola says the discrimination made her depressed and began having an effect on her personal life.

My wife and I began to drift apart during the most stressful times largely because of the emotional toll it was taking on me. I’m making a stand so that someday this won’t happen to anyone anymore.”

There are 50 states in the United States of America and a whopping 29 of them have lacking anti-discrimination laws that allow LGBTQ to be fired solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Including Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and all the other usual suspects, even New York is listed as a state that fails in protecting its workers as it doesn’t protect against gender identity discrimination.

School Tries And Fails To Suspend Student For ‘Lesbian’ T-Shirt

Senior Briana Popour had worn the shirt to her South Carolina school plenty of times before, but earlier this month, she was suspended for it for the first time. “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian” it read.



The Chesnee High School official pulled Popour out of class to tell her the shirt was disruptive. The student handbook bans “clothing deemed distracting, revealing, overly suggestive, or otherwise disruptive,” as well as any attire that is “immodest, obscene, profane, lewd, vulgar, indecent or offensive.”

She explained to WSPA,

When I said something to him about the handbook, he said, ‘Well, not everything is in the handbook.’”

Briana’s mother, Barbara Popour, confronted the official when she went to pick up her daughter.

He does not like people in his school wearing anything that says anything about lesbians, gays, or bisexuals. I was told to change my shirt or go home, so I went home because I wasn’t going to allow him to tell me I can’t wear a shirt that shows who I am.”

When asked for comment, school officials said that the t-shirt was “offensive and distracting”.

However, for Miss Popour, the t-shirt is part of her identity.

She also says that rather than punishing students for self-expression, the school should instead be encouraging their pupils to “be happy with who you are”.

Isn’t that what school is supposed to teach you? To be happy with who you are? Maybe people will be more comfortable showing who they are because you should be able to wear what you want to wear.”

The school has since overturned Popour’s suspension. According to Spartanburg School District 2 spokeswoman Rhonda Henderson,

The dress code disciplinary decision you inquired about was overturned when administration realized that although the shirt was offensive and distracting to some adults in the building, the students were paying it little attention.”

Openly Gay High School Student Yearbook Quote Goes Viral For All the Right Reasons

An openly gay high school valedictorian Caitlyn Cannon’s witty yearbook quote wins love from around the world.

Caitlyn Cannon, who also identifies as a feminist, found the quote on Tumblr and changed it to fit her personal point of view.

The quote reads,

I need feminism because I intend on marrying rich and I can’t do that if my wife and I are making .75 cent for every dollar a man makes.”

When asked about what inspired her yearbook quote, Cannon told the Huffington Post that she had seen a similar message on Tumblr pertaining to men, but that she changed the words to reflect her own identity.

I was tired of seeing the same old quotes from popular books and movies and authors, and I wanted to call attention to a problem that women face. I’ve never really been ashamed to say that I am gay, so the LGBT aspect was simply who I am.”

She’s received mostly positive reaction, which she called “encouraging.”


South Korean TV Channel Features First lesbian Kiss, But Sadly It Creates Controversy

Popular TV high school drama, Seonam Girls High School Investigators, featured a storyline, which resulted in two students sharing a kiss.


The scene aired last week, but since then it has drawn criticism from in the conservative Asian country.

SKTV-lesbian-Kissing-03 SKTV-lesbian-Kissing-01

South Korean’s conservative roots are quickly shifting to include more civil liberties, however, the Korea Communications Standards Commission received complaints after the show aired on TV – and the broadcast regulator has now pledged to investigate whether the moment violated regulations.

The Korea Communications Standards Commission said:

“We will decide whether this is an issue after we look into it, and whether there is any violation of broadcast policy.”

The creators of the show have defended the kiss as “necessary to the plot”. And in recent years, the country’s TV drama industry has tried to include more culturally-sensitive social issues, including gay characters and teenage pregnancy.

There was also a kissing scene earlier this month between two men in the drama, Kill Me, Heal Me.

Same-sex relationships are legal in South Korea, but same-sex unions aren’t recognised in the country. Few public figures are openly gay. Last September, two men were South Korea’s first same-sex couple to get married. Through a legal challenge, the couple, Kim Jho Kwang-Soo and Kim Seung-Hwan, hopes to make their country a leader of marriage equality in Asia.

Attitudes about same-sex conduct have changed South Korea in recent years, according to the Pew Research Center. South Korean views have shifted considerably since 2007, when 77% of respondents polled said same-sex conduct should be rejected and only 18% approved of it. But two years ago, 39% of residents said they accepted gay individuals.


US High School Names Openly Gay Student Homecoming Queen

Last week, April Swartz-Larson learned she was nominated to be the first lesbian student in McKinney High School’s history to be Homecoming Queen. Then on Friday, April’s classmates proudly named her homecoming queen.

April said she was surprised when she heard students talking about nominating her, as the school had never had any another openly gay student be nominated for the homecoming court before.

“My heart was racing. That moment still doesn’t seem real to me… Before it started, I was totally not expecting it. But by the end I wasn’t really surprised because I heard a lot of people told me they voted for me.

I’m really excited. I try to play it off as having a cool demeanor, but I’ve let that go. I really want to win.”

April Swartz-Larson

April’s friend, McKinney High School senior Emilee Swim, started campaigning with a Twitter message encouraging people to vote for April. Soon, the social media response was enough to get people to make posters and hand out flyers.

“I wasn’t necessarily surprised because everyone loves her. She has the biggest heart. She’s really accepted by everyone.”

Emilee Swim

The road to the homecoming court started with nominations, and April was among the top five write-in vote getters. Last week, the students voted for the king and queen winners, who were announced during halftime homecoming game against Denison.

While the other nominees for queen wore bright-colored dresses, April wore a dark suit with purple shirt and turquoise bow tie. When the announcer named her the winner, she jumped in the air and threw up the punk rock “sign of the horns” with both hands. Someone put a tiara on her head and a sash around her shoulders.

April’s father, Darrin Larson, said that he was happily surprised when his daughter told him the news. He escorted her onto the field Friday night.

“Her whole kind of being doesn’t say, ‘homecoming queen’. She’s not one of the popular kids, but kids seem to really like her.”

Darrin Larson

He said that April lost some friends when she first came out. Before freshman year started, she cut her long blonde hair short and dyed it black.

April said some friends she had before stopped hanging out with her, and didn’t know what to make of her announcement. Now, however, those friends will say ‘Hi’ to her, and are more accepting of who she is, she said.

“It was pretty hard when I first came out. Everyone’s kind of grown up a little bit, and they’ve seen I’m the same person.”

April Swartz-Larson

Last year, C.C. Winn High School in Eagle Pass voted for two homecoming queens representing the school’s chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance, rather than selecting a king and queen.

In 2010, a transgender girl was forbidden by the principal at North Dallas High School from running for homecoming queen.

In 2009, the University of North Texas student body voted not to allow same-sex couples to run for homecoming court.

Although she hasn’t been directly targeted for bullying, April said she was surprised to win the homecoming vote as a student in a conservative community.

“It’s kind of cliché, but beyond me I think it’s awesome we live in McKinney, Texas, and that I’d be nominated for queen. It’s incredible.

I’m just proud of everyone I go to school with. I’m just proud to be a part of that.”

April Swartz-Larson