Creation of a Safe (Self-)Educational Environment for LGBT+ School Students: Principles and Possibilities
In Lithuanian educational institutions we lack a tradition, specific vocabulary, and sometimes enough willingness to talk about the needs of LGBT+ individuals, the difficulties that they face with and the solutions for those issues. Despite the fact that almost all people in Lithuania have some opinion about LGBT+ people, problems, topicalities and expectations of LGBT+ individuals still remain terra incognita for many of us. Fear, lack of relevant information and myths about homosexuality and transsexuality that are frequent in most educational institutions reflect common insufficient consciousness of the society. Myths and prejudices create distrust of LGBT+ people and make their devaluation and non-acceptance an established norm, which causes a lot of emotionally painful experiences with further consequences for LGBT+ school students – they feel marginalized, misunderstood, disrespected, they tend to behave self-destructively, have suicidal thoughts and try to commit suicide more often than their heterosexual peers. In this reflection, I want to share the widespread myths about LGBT+ people, to assess the possible causes of their rejection and ignorance of their needs, and to provide guidance on how to help LGBT+ individuals feel more secure in their educational institutions. The reflection is based on my personal insights and experiences that I have gained through self-help groups and seminars on gender for teachers and school student assistance specialists, as well as the knowledge and information that I have received from people working for human rights organizations.
Keywords: LGBT+ school students; LGBT+ school students’ needs; LGBT+ individuals-friendly environment; prevention of discrimination; gender-based bullying; equal possibilities at schools; gender-neutral education.