The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization has released the 2021 Annual Report from the Welcoming Schools Program. The inaugural Welcoming Schools Annual Report exhibits marked growth and expanded equitable access to virtual PreK-12 training opportunities for educators across the country and internationally. In 2021, Welcoming Schools trained over 16,000 educators in 37 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Taiwan impacting over 3.9 million students.
Some of the key resources named in the report for educators and administrators include What Does Gay Mean?, What Do You Say to “That’s So Gay” and Other Anti-LGBTQ+ Comments? and Children’s Books with Transgender, Non-Binary and Gender Expansive Children. The Welcoming Schools website provides educators with checklists, guidance, booklists and lesson plans to continually improve their practice both in and out of the classroom. These resources are the top three most used and have been accessed over one million times. Additionally, the report features resources about creating gender inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying and embracing all families.
Over the past year, in response to the urgent needs of LGBTQ+ youth in middle and high schools, the Welcoming Schools program developed additional professional development and resources for secondary schools. To address these needs the program rolled out new training modules, booklists and resources to support secondary school educators with attention to the unique needs of LGBTQ+ adolescents.
The work that these schools do to create a more LGBTQ+ inclusive environment is imperative given the onslaught of attacks from state legislatures across the country. This year, statewide officials in Texas have tried to criminalize transition care for minors, and last week lawmakers in Alabama enacted the nation’s first bill to impose criminal penalties on providers of age-appropriate, medically necessary, gender-affirming care for transgender youth. In Florida, the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill stands to block teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues or people, further stigmatizing LGBTQ+ people and isolating LGBTQ+ kids. Additionally, Iowa was the first state in the country that had passed statewide non-discrimination protections that include LGBTQ+ people to reverse course by prohibiting transgender women and girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. And in South Dakota, Gov. Noem proclaimed that it “makes me sad” to hear about high rates of depression among LGBTQ+ people in her state – just days after she signed the first anti-trans bill of 2022 into law.