ACTION: Don’t let our leaders leave LGBTQ+ students behind!
LGBTQ+ students were already suffering higher rates of bullying, discrimination, and mental health issues than their straight and cisgender peers before the pandemic, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made the challenges for queer youth even more daunting.
Here’s the good news: The Department of Education has advised states to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support vulnerable students, including students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, students with disabilities, and students experiencing homelessness by creating resources to help them bounce back stronger from COVID-19.
Here’s the bad news: Right now, we have no indication that Governor Walz, Minnesota Health Commissioner Mueller, or our legislative leaders plan to prioritize LGBTQ+ students in their ARPA recovery plan.
A lot of people don’t realize that, when we talk about kids of color and kids with disabilities, when we talk about kids experiencing homelessness, experiencing food insecurity, and struggling with mental health challenges — we’re talking about LGBTQ+ kids, too.
LGBTQ+ youth sit squarely at the intersections of these vulnerable backgrounds and identities. That’s why we’re calling on our leaders to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to make simple, concrete changes that will help LGBTQ+ students not only survive, but thrive in Minnesota schools:
- Update the Safe and Supportive Schools Toolkit to reflect current state law, which makes it illegal to prohibit trans students from using facilities that match their gender identity;
- Provide funding for training and resources to all educators and districts, including training on the Safe and Supportive Schools Toolkit; and
- Reinstate funding for the School Safety and Technical Assistance Hotline, which provided critical support for LGBTQ+ students until its funding was cut by the Trump administration in 2017.
Join us in asking our state leaders to include LGBTQ+ youth in any plan to distribute ARPA funds. The challenges faced by LGBTQ+ students are urgent, and their need for support and protection could not be more clear.