cover image LGBT Youth in America's Schools

LGBT Youth in America's Schools

Jason Cianciotto and Sean Cahill. Univ. of Michigan, $30 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-0-472-03140-5

In this sobering look at the many issues confronting young LGBT students, Cianciotto and Cahill use statistics and real-life anecdotes to show the pervasiveness of gender- and sexual orientation-based harassment in American schools, and argue for institutional reform and policy changes. Recent research shows that relative to studies conducted in the 70s and 80s, the age at which individuals self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender has dropped significantly. This means that more and more young people are coming out (or being outted) while still technically a minor, and thus subject to the rules of their educational institutions, and increasingly the abuse of their peers, teachers, and school administrators. "[T]he majority of states have laws or regulations that prohibit discrimination," but the authors point out that those laws often do not include "specific enumeration of sexual orientation" and gender identification, which classifications would be "critical" in protecting LGBT students. Organized into three sections (research, current policies, and an agenda for looking forward), Cianciotto and Cahill's treatise is an informative and compelling basis for continuing the discussion (especially as regards LGBT students of color) of how best to protect the rights of a vulnerable and largely disenfranchised group. While their approach is accessible enough for the concerned lay reader, policymakers and educational professionals will likely get the most out of this study. (June)