243702 LGBTQ youth action research as a tool for policy and school change

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Maureen Sedonaen, MBA , Youth Leadership Institute, San Francisco, CA
Jennifer Juras, PhD , Youth Leadership Institute, San Francisco, CA
Kristen Law, MA , Youth Leadership Institute, San Francisco, CA
The California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools. However, while most schools have anti-discrimination policies that address sexual orientation and gender identify, they often lack specific policies and training to implement the Act and ensure equitable and safe environments for LGBTQ youth (California Safe Schools Coalition, 2006). Compromised safety of LGBTQ students is seen in Marin County, where 7% of females and 15% of males in grades 7-11 report their sexual orientation as a reason for harassment in school (California Healthy Kids Survey, WestEd, 2008). LGBTQ students face higher rates of mental health problems, sexual health risks, substance abuse, and family issues (California Postsecondary Education Commission, 2009).

The purpose of the current work is to engage youth in action research in their schools and develop a plan of action for policy and social norm changes to prevent discrimination and alleviate risks and challenges faced by LGBTQ youth. Youth researchers developed a survey to measure school climate; experience of homophobic language, harassment, and violence and adult responses to those occurrences, and existing school LGBTQ resources (including curricula, positive adults, and policies). Youth implemented the survey in 4 high schools in two Marin County school districts.

This presentation includes youth researchers' findings from the 3,000 surveys they administered in Winter 2011 and the resulting recommendations and action plan to improve the health and safety of students they develop in Winter/Spring 2011.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
List effective school policy solutions for creating safe and healthy school environments Describe the effectiveness of youth action research for preventing discrimination against GLBT youth

Keywords: Youth, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I, along with my co-authors, have designed and implemented youth action research initiatives to create school and community changes for more than 10 years. We have written curricula and trained groups across the state of California on this content.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.