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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight Secondary Education
 
Secondary EducationDespite opposition from largely Christian Right-Wing Groups, resources and protections for glbtq secondary school students have dramatically increased since the first glbtq student organizations emerged on university campuses in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
 
 
The ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project has fought to compel high schools to protect glbtq students from harassment and discrimination, recognize gay-straight alliances on the same basis as other non-curricular clubs, and stop schools from censoring educational gay and lesbian websites.
 
 
Adolescence is a life stage during which young people ordinarily experience sexual uncertainty and confusion. This sexual uncertainty and concomitant emotional turmoil are compounded in glbtq adolescents by fears of being stigmatized and often by internalized homophobia.
 
 
GLADGay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) is New England's leading glbtq public-interest legal organization. The extraordinarily successful advocacy group has worked to protect glbtq students in schools and fought for the right of students to form glbtq student organizations.
 
 
Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) was founded in 1990 to create safe K-12 school environments for glbtq students. Its mission is to reform the American educational system in order to ensure that children accept and respect one another, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
 
 
Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) are youth-led, school- or community-based groups designed to assist glbtq students, children from glbtq families, and heterosexual students who want to be allies of their glbtq peers.
 
 
Brent HartingerBrent Hartinger (b. 1964) is a writer whose first novel, Geography Club (2003), was inspired by both his own teenage years and his experiences as a founder of Oasis, a gay teen support group with more than 200 members.
 
 
Kevin JenningsKevin Jennings (b. 1963) transformed his anger at bullying and gay bashing in schools into founding GLSEN, the first national organization to address the homophobia experienced by glbtq youth in schools. In May 2009, Jennings joined the Obama administration as Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education and Director of the Office of Safe & Drug-Free Schools.
 
 
Leslea NewmanLesléa Newman (b. 1955), author of the famously controversial children's book Heather has Two Mommies (1989), is a prolific writer of books for children, adolescents, and adults. Her young adult titles include Fat Chance (1994), about eating disorders, and Jail Bait (2005), which tackles sexual abuse.
 
 
PFLAGParents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) became a national organization in 1981. One of PFLAG's most important functions is to counsel and support parents as they come to terms with their children's sexual orientation.
 
 
Point FoundationThe Point Foundation offers generous college grants to gifted students who have lost their families' support because of their sexual orientation. Once in college, the foundation provides each scholarship recipient with mentoring and supervision to support personal growth and academic success.
 
 
Alex SanchezAlex Sanchez (b. 1957) writes fiction for the middle-grade audience that draws on his years of experience as a guidance counselor. Though his books have been lauded by teachers and librarians, they have also faced attempts at censorship.
 
 
Shyam SelvaduraiShyam Selvadurai (b. 1965) is a Sri Lankan-Canadian writer whose third novel, Swimming in the Monsoon Sea (2005), targeted Young Adult readers. The novel chronicles a fourteen-year-old Sri Lankan boy's falling in love with his visiting Canadian cousin. The book was a finalist for Canada's most prestigious literary award.
 
 
Sex Education programs are vulnerable to the attempts of religious radicals to hijack the sex education movement as a means of disseminating their own repressive blend of intolerance and fear. Because of the opposition of conservative Christians, basic discussion of sexual orientation in public schools across the country remains rare.
 
 
Student Organizations for gay and lesbian students began in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a handful found at large universities. Today, nearly all American college campuses have glbtq student organizations and more than 3,000 GSAs have been formed in high schools throughout the United States.
 
 
Teachers have historically faced all manner of social pressures, including open hostiliy and expectations that they hide their sexuality. Now, however, teacher groups and individuals are working to improve the climate for glbtq teachers.
 
 
Transgender people are becoming increasingly visible at secondary and post-secondary schools, but relatively few institutions provide for the needs of transgender students. If institutions are to be welcoming to people of all genders, issues of discrimination and equal access to facilities and health care need to be addressed.
 
 
Trevor ProjectThe Trevor Project is a Los Angeles-based educational organization that operates the only national 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention hot line in the U.S. aimed at glbtq youth.
 
 
Jacqueline WoodsonJacqueline Woodson (b. 1963) is an African-American lesbian author of books for young adults. She often writes about girls, but her uncanny ability to understand the adolescent mind and communicate young adult feelings has also allowed her to write from the perspective of teen-aged boys.
 
 
 

 
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