LGBTQ+ Student Rights
LGBTQ+ Student Rights
It’s official: The US Supreme Court says anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination is illegal.
No matter what you may have heard in the past, harassment and discrimination against LGBTQ+ students are against the law. If you go to a public school, they’re also against the Constitution. Unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ students still experience them every day. Here’s what you need to know.
AS AN LGBTQ+ STUDENT, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT:
- To choose when and how to come out. You have the right to be out and proud, when and how you choose. You also have the right to keep your gender identity and sexual orientation private. Your school can’t out you—even to your parents—without a strong justification.
- To live as your true gender. You have the right to dress, use school restrooms and changing rooms, and participate in sports and other activities according to your gender identity. If you’re not a boy or a girl and there are only boys’ and girls’ options, you have the right to say which option is most appropriate for you.
- To express who you are and what you believe. You have the right to express your identity through speech and clothes and to speak about your beliefs. As long as you’re following school rules and not harassing others, your school can’t single you out (solely) because you’re LGBTQ+.
- To date who you want. You have the right to date who you want, regardless of gender, and go with your date to school events. Your school can’t treat you different than other couples because you’re LGBTQ+.
- To form a student group. You have the right to form a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance or Gender Sexuality Alliance) or other any other type of LGBTQ+ student-focused club and have it be recognized the same as any other groups recognized by your school.
- Not to be misgendered or harassed. You have the right to be called by the name and pronouns that match who you are in every aspect of the school day. Your school is responsible for stopping harassment, including if someone intentionally misgenders you.
- To report harassment. Take notes of any incident of harassment. Put your school on notice right away that it has to protect you.
If you experience any problems at school, first talk to your principal or another official. If nothing happens, it's time to get help.
FILE A FEDERAL, STATE, OR LOCAL CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT
If you have experienced school-based bullying, harassment, or discrimination, you can also file a complaint with your local school district, your state education agency, or the US Education Department today. You can file a complaint for bullying, harassment, or discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, or sex characteristics. For more information on how to file a complaint you can reference the Claim Your Rights resource.
If you have questions on how to take action, please do not hesitate to contact us:
- GLSEN National: 202-347-7780, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.glsen.org.
- PFLAG National: Diego Miguel Sanchez, APR, Director of Advocacy, Policy & Partnerships, 202-657-6997, email@example.com, www.pflag.org.
- For information on obtaining legal assistance contact the ACLU’s National LGBT Project: https://action.aclu.org/legal-intake/report-lgbtqhiv-discrimination.
- To connect with an attorney to address harassment or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, contact the National Women’s Law Center Fund’s Legal Network for Gender Equity: www.nwlc.org/legal-assistance.