Joseph Robinson and Dorothy Espelage’s study of LGBTQ+-identifying students found that, compared to their straight-identifying counterparts, LGBTQ+ students are at a greater risk of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and victimization by peers. Their findings also suggested that LGBTQ+ students are more likely to have unexcused absences from school. If students are not provided with a safe space at school—where they feel heard, seen, represented, and respected—there is no doubt that absences will rise. This victimization is not only limited to school, the study suggests, but also follows the students into their lives online.
For students coming from minority backgrounds—whichever identity that minority status may refer to—they are already facing the difficulties that come along with being an underrepresented group in society. In the case of LGBTQ+-identifying students, this marginalization is further matched with violence, bullying, and victimization at school. Students, conforming to the society they were socialized in, reproduce the marginalization faced by LGBTQ+. In doing so, schools become a source of further emotional and physical trauma for an already-marginalized group. Thus, when students are expected to navigate this trauma while also keeping up their grades, they are at a high risk of lower educational attainment.
Even if schools can be sources of equalization through the provision of education and resources, marginalized students may not be able to benefit from this equalizing property due to the victimization they face from their peers. Schools are a part of existing social structures; the biases outside the classroom may be brought indoors through students and teachers perpetuating existing social hierarchies and harms. As discussed earlier, this could lead to absences and low educational attainment for LGBTQ+ students, thereby reducing the opportunity to be able to fully utilize the benefit of schools.
Robinson, Joseph P. and Dorothy L Espelage. 2011. “Inequities in Educational and Psychological Outcomes Between LGBTQ and Straight Students in Middle and High School.” Educational Researcher 40(7): 315-330 **[cw: discussion of suicide and suicidal thoughts]
Last Fact Checked on May 28th, 2021.