The Department of Education has released a new guidance with recommendations to assure homeless youth have equal access to educational opportunities. The document will help school make sure they are in compliance with the Every Student Succeed Act.
The guidance also acknowledges youth of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are dispraportionately impacted by youth homelessness and face unique hurdles in accessing public education. It states in part: “… studies suggest that 20-40 percent of unaccompanied homeless youths identify as LGBTQ; for this population, family conflict and rejection after coming out is often a contributing factor to youths becoming homeless.”
The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty are encouraged by the guidance: “We are pleased that the Administration has clarified and strengthened the rights of students experiencing homelessness so they can stay in school and get the support they need to reach their potential,” states Deputy Director Janet Hostetler.
The Department of Education document also encourages schools to look at disciplinary policies that disproportionally impact homeless students, including LGBTQ youth and youth of color.
“… The process of reviewing and revising policies should include a review of school discipline policies that disproportionately impact homeless students, including those who are also children and youths of color; those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ); English learners; and students with disabilities.“
This guidance is an important one for LGBTQ youth and particularly LGBTQ youth of color who encounter higher rates of discipline in schools (According to the new report from GLSEN, Drop Out, Push Out, & School-to-Prison Pipeline). Many of these youth are already experiencing bullying and harrassment in schools. The added burden of disproportionate or inappropriate disciplinary measures only serves to drive these youth farther away from the education they deserve. GLSEN states this can lead to “detention, suspension, or even expulsion from school.”
This new guidance is an important new tool for everyone advocating for Homeless LGBT Youth (and all youth). What changes need to be implemented in your local school to make sure LGBTQ youth have the educational opportunities they deserve? Who will be advocating for (and with) homeless LGBT youth in public schools where you live?
- Read the guidance: Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program
- Read the Every Student Succeeds Act
- Download the fact sheet and share it with school staff, teachers & principals.