Whether you’re a parent, school administrator, teacher, or ally, you can Make It Better for LGBT youth!
Share your story and you can make it better for today’s high school students -- whether you graduated last year or 30 years ago!
Write a letter to your high school’s current principal, and let them know what life was like for LGBT youth when you were there. Did you experience or witness discrimination when you attended? Ask what the school administration is doing to stop bullying and to support LGBT students and allies. Let them know what a principal’s support or intervention would have meant for you or your LGBT classmates.
Learn how you can prevent, recognize, and respond to bullying. If you are concerned that your child might have suicidal thoughts, provide your child with resources from our Get Help page or see the section on Suicide Prevention below.
Empower Your Child
Support your child’s efforts to Make It Better at school. Offer your support if they want to start or run a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). Learn what a GSA is and how to start one. Visit our For Youth page to learn more about steps your child can take, which you can support.
Advocate for Your Child
Advocate for your child by getting involved in your child´s school, and working with teachers and administrators to make that school safer. See Teachers and School Administrators below for action steps.
Support Your Child
Let your child know that you accept them. LGBT children whose families become more accepting experience significantly lower rates of suicide and other health and mental health problems than LGBT children who experience family rejection. Read the research from the Family Acceptance Project and learn how you can support your LGBT child. Parents of transgender and gender non-conforming youth can find additional resources from Trans Youth and Family Allies, Gender Spectrum, and TransActive.
Family Equality Council also has a number of publications for parents looking to support inclusive schools, including "Opening Doors."
Know Your Rights
If your child is being bullied or harassed, the school has the responsibility to intervene – and you have the right to demand that they do.
All schools should have policies in place to address bullying and harassment. Filing a complaint is your first step to stopping the harassment of your child. Make sure to record your actions each time you or your child file a complaint to a school administrator or have a conversation with a teacher.
If teachers and administrators seem unwilling to stop the bullying and harassment, contact a legal organization such as the ACLU, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, Transgender Law Center, or Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD - New England Only). Records of your interactions with the school staff might be essential to these organizations’ efforts to enforce your child’s right to be safe in school.
To find out more, check out PFLAG and GLSEN’s Claim Your Rights Project, which walks through the process for both parents and students to file claims.
School staff have tremendous power to shift the school environment from one that is hostile towards LGBT youth to one that is safe for all students.
Support the establishment of a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or similar club at your school. Learn what a GSA is and how to become an awesome adviser.
Intervene every time you hear anti-LGBT slurs or name-calling. Train teachers and staff at your school to intervene when they hear slurs or negative comments based on sexual orientation or gender non-conformity.
For more information about combating slurs, see GSA Network’s Anti-Slur Campaign.
Make sure your school has the basic procedural framework to support students and combat bullying.
Simply making supportive resources available to students and staff could help change your school climate. Tell students where they can go for information and support related to sexual orientation, gender identity, bullying, and suicide. See our Get Help page for resources you can publicize in your school.
Create Safe Spaces
While any step that ameliorates the isolation and discrimination faced by LGBT youth helps build safer schools, the following resources provide direct assistance for dealing with the issue of suicide.
Reach Out to Schools
Get involved in your alma mater or local schools in your area! Share your story with your principal through the Write A Letter, Make It Better campaign, and suggest ways that the school administration can make it better for students today (refer to Teachers and Administrators for suggestions). Donate LGBT-related books to a school library. Volunteer with local LGBT youth organizations. Get in touch with your alma mater or local school’s GSA, and ask how you can support them. If you’re already doing something to make it better in a community, make a video about it and ask other adult allies to follow your example.
Run for school board! Become a leader in the movement for safe schools.
Also be sure to tell your Congressional representatives and senators to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your representative.
Donate to the Make It Better Project, GSA Network, or any of Make It Better Project's participating organizations. You can also help out by fundraising to support your alma mater or local school’s efforts to combat anti-LGBT bullying.