1. What federal, state, and local legislation or policies have been enacted or created to address or change the problem of harassment of young adults that are LGBT in high school?
An all-inclusive approach towards eradicating harassment-related events involves designing and publicizing strong, documented policies. While developing guidelines the noteworthy legal issues pertinent to identifying if illegal harassment has taken place should be kept in mind and should be customized to the requirements of the specific school or school district. Minimally, the policies should encompass harassment on grounds of ethnic or racial background, nationality, sex, and disability, since these forms of harassment are prohibited by federal regulations (Chall, 2008).
The policies should in addition cover other types of harassment, such as harassment derived from sexual orientation or religious belief, as forbidden by state or regional legislation. It should be noted that the authorities of the county along with the municipality and the attorney general of the state and education department of the state should be responsible for providing guidance concerning state and regional requirements. Defining harassment semantically is important in order to eradicate ambiguity.
Maltreatment and criminal conduct on grounds of genuine or supposed sexual orientation have been acknowledged as a major issue in a lot of schools. School administrations should reflect on implementing certain statements or strategies on the subject of harassment on grounds of sexual orientation that would facilitate enhanced protection of students against violence and detrimental actions of this sort (Swan, 2002).
Considering the problem of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender students at schools, almost every school has policies that protect students from harassment which is provided to them and based on sexual orientation. Moreover, schools have to protect LGBT students, as it is their direct responsibility. In situations, when the school has no policy which could protect students, every person has the right to be safe in the school walls. There are some social organizations, which are aimed to protect legally LGBT students from harassment, one of which is the American Civil Liberties Union, which fights for GLBY rights since the 1960s (Huegel, 2003).
Macgillivray (2004) gives the example of such district policy as “Zero Tolerance”, and the school with such policy provides different treatment of students who violate this policy. They are not punished; they are called for education, in other words, they are taught why it is wrong to disregard gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender students. It is impossible to avoid the national policy of the Civil Rights Law of 1964, which states that everybody should be treated equally (Allen-Meares & Garvin, 2000).
There are also some organizations that deal with the problem of LGBT students on a local and national level. The National Association of School Psychologists and GLSEN is the organization that deals with the education of school teachers on how to behave with LGBT students. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is a national organization that has representatives all over the state and can give necessary help. The existence of such national hotlines as The Trevor Helpline, the Covenant House, and the National Runaway Switchboard provide the LGBT students with twenty-four-hour free help. In addition, what is most important, there is the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution according to which students have equal protection under the law? (Mennuti et al, 2006).
It is obvious that lawsuits would be most competent only if the students and their parents vigilantly testify about each confrontation of harassment and report them through meetings with the school authorities. It is a disheartening fact that a few school administrations show enthusiasm to safeguard their students from harassment and discrimination more out of trepidation rather than a sense of decorum and sprite. However, in any case, school districts would sooner or later be obligated to safeguard all of their students irrespective of any grounds of discrimination. Anti-Discriminatory policies of the federal government, states, and regional authorities would compel school districts to take measures in order to save all of their students from the evils of harassment (Stein, 2004).
2. What practice theories and intervention strategies are currently used to treat individuals, families, or groups experiencing the problem of harassment of young adults that are LGBT?
Many schools have already put into application an early implementation of anti-discrimination strategies that is potent enough to put an end to maltreatment of gays and lesbians in the initial stages before the conditions deteriorate and turn into hostility. A number of school districts are adopting a pro-active attitude towards homophobic concerns and other appearances of harassing incidents. A few others have as a minimum started scrutinizing the enormity of the problem (Roberts, 2005).
In the United States, some studies have suggested that the gay and lesbian population hovers about 10 percent. From the point of view of the Gay and Lesbian community, there is no problem regarding social identity. But the rest of the society views this sexual preference as abnormal so the problem of identity actually lies with society and not the Gays and Lesbians. However, there is evidence that they tend to view themselves as a minority group of society. Thus, to motivate this community into the mainstream it is necessary to implement different practice theories and intervention strategies in order to make the LGBT community safe.
In the year 1996, the Denver school coordination initiated a curriculum that incorporated a new announcement that recommended that students should talk to school-appointed counselors on the subject of harassment founded on racial background, sex, and sexual orientation (Berkowitz, 2004). Counselors were provided with special training in order to make them more competent in dealing with such grievances. Officials and administrative committees put the program into practice in every school in the region.
The discussed above policies and law documents really work in the schools, where they are proclaimed and where the staff provides their help to LGBT students. As mentioned above “Zero Tolerance” policy which is used in the schools is very effective, as, in the line with the policy provided, the educators also use some strategies to overcome the problem. Those who harass gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender students are not punished but they are taught why their actions are considered to be wrong. Parents are very intensively involved in the process which helps to avoid the recidivism in the question. The lessons are provided with the aim to explain to students that LGBTs are the same people as them, only with a different understanding of the relations. The discussion is implemented in the team works or in groups, to be more specific. LGBT students are also taught how to behave in situations when they are discriminated against (Macgillivray, 2004).
It is crucial to remind that the policies and the actions which are provided work only in the case the society is aware of the problem, and they are explained the importance to regard the opinion of other people.
3. What research evidence is available that supports the effectiveness of the current policies and practices used to ameliorate the problem of harassment of young adults that are LGBT?
Legally and morally, policies and legislations are essential in order to put off incidents of harassment in all forms against all students, including provocations based on racial background, religious beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, lingual origin, or physical or mental disabilities. Only in safe environment quality education can be imparted: teachers can educate and students can be taught (Bandura, 2005).
It should be stated that the findings of the ‘Safe Place to Learn’ initiative substantiates the usefulness of numerous measures schools can implement including reorganization and imposing anti-harassment guidelines that explicitly incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity, providing instructions to the teachers and the staff to intercede when aspersions are used, and endorsing initiatives to institute Gay-Straight Alliance groups on the campus. These measures bring about a reduction of harassment-related incidents and taunts, enhancing the students’ perception of safety, and intensifying their links to community and the society.
The findings reveal that students who are aware of a school rule explicitly barring harassment on grounds of sexual orientation are 19% less prone to harassment rooted in sexual orientation and 25% more expected to feel secure in school. Students who report that their teachers intervene when they take notice of derision are 35% less liable to be beleaguered and 9% more expected to feel protected in school. Students of schools that have Gay-Straight Alliance groups are 16% less prone to aggravation and 23% more expected to feel secure in school. (Stainton, Stenner, & Gleesen, 2008). These measures are also linked with stronger student bonds to school, community, and society which are key instruments for the students’ security and healthy cognitive development.
One of the first and the main pieces of evidence of successful solving of LGBT problem is the legalization of civil unions among same-sex partners in Canada (Mazur, 2002). This decision, provided by state powers was difficult, but the legalization solved a lot of problems. LGBT students do not feel so frightened as they were before. Awareness that same-gender marriages are allowed, helps them to cope with their school troubles. The appearance of different movements and demonstrations all over the country gives gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender students an opportunity to understand that they are not alone and that help may be found in the case when they are offended.
The very existence of the LGBT movement without the “obvious leader” (Peters, 2009) hints that the society is ready to accept the same gender relations. There will always be people who are against the LGBT communities, but it is not the reason to deprive people of their right to have their personal opinion, to deprive people of their right to be the masters of their own destinies. Modern society is more liberated and the success which LGBT groups have now had to come through a long way in order to succeed in a great social war, which is called the right to personal opinion.
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