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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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LGBTQ Youth

While few nationally representative, large surveys of youth ask about sexual orientation and gender identity, best estimates suggest that between 7-9% of youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Using these estimates, the Williams Institute reports that there are approximately 3.2 million LGBTQ youth between the ages of eight and 18, more than half of whom (52%) are youth of color (compared to 39% of LGBT adults who are people of color). LGBT youth are at risk for family rejection, homelessness, discrimination and bullying at school, and harmful so-called "conversion therapy" practices. LGBTQ youth are also uniquely resilient and build amazing support structures for themselves.

This page contains resources addressing the challenges and strengths of LGBTQ youth.


Related Resources

Infographic

Transgender Students and Title IX

November 2017 - Every student deserves a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future—including students who are transgender. This two page infographic offers an explanation of why Title IX of the Civil Rights Act is so important for transgender students and reviews the legal landscape.

Report

LGBT Policy Spotlight
Conversion Therapy Bans

July 2017 - LGBT Policy Spotlight: Conversion Therapy Bans offers an overview of laws protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy practices that attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices have been widely discredited and renounced, including by groups like the American Psychological Association.

Report

Unjust: LGBTQ Youth Incarcerated in the Juvenile Justice System

June 2017 - LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in juvenile detention and correctional facilities. LGBTQ youth who are incarcerated in juvenile detention and correctional facilities face bias in adjudication, and mistreatment and abuse in confinement facilities. LGBTQ youth also lack supportive services when leaving the criminal and juvenile justice systems, often forcing them back into negative interactions with law enforcement. This report highlights their experiences and the need to reform the juvenile justice system.

Report

Separation and Stigma: Transgender Youth & School Facilities

April 2017 - This new report examines the harmful and unnecessary policies that exclude transgender students from accessing appropriate school facilities. Despite the success of inclusive policies across the country, seventeen states have introduced legislation designed to ensure transgender students are relegated to facilities that align with the sex on their birth certificate, rather than their gender identity.

Report

Mapping Transgender Equality in the United States

February 2017 - To help make sense of the current policy landscape in the states, this report looks at legal equality for transgender people across the country. The gender identity tally is comprised of 25 state laws and policies in five key categories: Non-Discrimination, LGBT Youth, Health and Safety, Ability to Correct the Name and Gender Marker on Identity Documents, and Adoption and Parenting.

Guide

Talking About Transgender Students & School Facilities Access

January 2017 - As part of ongoing efforts to protect transgender people from discrimination, there is growing momentum to ensure that transgender students have a fair chance at educational success. This guide provides high-level messaging to help build support for policies and laws that protect transgender students and their ability to access school facilities that match their gender identity.

Report

Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBTQ Youth

August 2016 - This companion report examines how as many as 3.2 million LGBTQ youth are vulnerable to discrimination, profiling, and mistreatment in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The report also documents the rampant mistreatment and abuse that LGBTQ young people face in court proceedings, detention and re-entry.

Map

School Laws and Policies

August 2016 - Schools laws impact the lives of LGBT students and youth, from prohibiting discrimination, bullying, and harassment, to laws and policies that prohibit students and teachers from talking about LGBT issues.

Map

Conversion Therapy Laws

August 2016 - Conversion therapy laws prohibit licensed mental health practitioners from subjecting LGBT minors to harmful "conversion therapy" practices that attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Infographic

Unjust: LGBT & GNC Girls Graphic

June 2016 - LGBT and gender non-conforming girls, particularly girls of color, are drastically over-represented in the criminal justice system. This infographic highlights the unique experiences of LGBT and GNC girls with criminal justice systems.

Report

Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations

November 2013 - Safe public discussions about suicide can play a critical role in increasing acceptance of LGBT people and supporting their well-being, while minimizing the risk of a phenomenon known as suicide contagion.

Report

Conversaciones sobre el suicidio y las poblaciones LGBT

Noviembre 2013 - El debate público y prudente sobre el suicidio juega un papel muy importante en generar una mayor aceptación de personas LGBT, contribuir a su bienestar y minimizar el riesgo de que se produzca el fenómeno denominado contagio suicida.

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