LGBTQ+ Student Resources

Collage of pictures of different students representing gay pride in parades

Your Maine Department of Education Actively Supports LGBTQ+ Student Success!

 

The Maine Department of Education’s mission is to promote the best learning opportunities for all Maine students.

The Department supports LGBTQ+ students by:

  • Engaging schools in creating safe, equitable and positive school cultures for all students.
  • Providing best practices for schools to support LGBTQ+ youth.
  • Including LGBTQ+ student voice in our task-force and stakeholder work.
  • Enhancing connections between schools and LGBTQ+ community organizations.

Maine schools, likewise, have a responsibility to provide a safe and equitable environment and  students are the ones with daily experience as to whether they feel safe and supported in their schools. The implementation of that responsibility varies from school to school as a result of Maine’s local school board structure. The Department of Education’s effort to strengthen this implementation is key state-level leadership work.

 

Understanding School Requirements for Supporting LGBTQ+ Students

Maine and federal laws create strong expectations for schools in providing quality education for all students, in safe and supportive environments. Students and families, as consumers of their schools’ education offerings, have rights as well as responsibilities in ensuring that they are able to fully access their educational resources. Making sure that you, as a student, understand the school’s responsibilities for your education and your rights is critical. 

What you can do:

  • GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders has great resources for understanding both schools’ responsibilities as well as students’ rights and responsibilities in the school environment.
  • Reach out to your school administrators to find out who is responsible for addressing any issues or concerns regarding the safety and support of LGBTQ+ students in your school.
  • Spread the word with your peers to build an accountability network across the student body.
  • Consider collaborating with your peers to build understanding and awareness of these issues across students and staff alike. 
    Accessing Student Resources for Creating Positive School Climate

    One excellent vehicle for collaboration is called a Gay/Straight/Trans Alliance (GSTA) or Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA)

    GSTAs or GSAs are a school club that bring LGBTQ+ youth and their allies together for support and sometimes advocacy, within the school environment. Many schools are adopting these clubs, with name changes to make them even more inclusive. 

    These school-based GSTAs or GSAs are a key ingredient to create a sense of safety for LGBTQ+ youth in their schools and have even been shown to reduce risks for ALL students. Similar to other school-based clubs in structure, GSTAs allow LGBTQ+ youth and allies to meet regularly with a supportive faculty advisor. This club creates a safe space for youth within the school environment. Schools with any kind of school-based club must provide the opportunity for a GSTA/GSA on the school campus. See this informational guide from GLAD about the practicalities and laws about students starting and running a GSA.

    Research indicates that LGBTQ+ students at schools with a GSTA/GSA were more likely to feel safe and missed fewer school days than LGBTQ+ youth who attended schools without GSTAs. LGBTQ+ students with a GSTA/GSA at their school also reported less anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, bullying and harassment in the school environment. Schools with GSTAs had significantly lower rates of suicidal thoughts and actions.

    Both GLAD and OUT Maine have solid resources to help build GSTAs (see "Resources for Maine Students" below).

    Getting Help and Support: Resources for Maine Students!

    Any and all young people who need support and help should get it, even during the intense challenges faced by waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are many people in Maine working to help young people facing these challenging realities and to provide support, including for LGBTQ+ students.

    Here are a number of organizations that work with Maine’s LGBTQ+ youth directly to provide community and support:

    Youth Programming

     

    LGBTQ+ Community Resources

     

    Mental Health Resources

    • These school-based staff can help connect students to mental health resources:
      • School social workers or clinicians
      • School counselors
      • School nurse

     

                Hotline: 877-565-8860

             1-800-273-TALK (8255)

     

    Student Rights Resources  

     

    • GLAD GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders

    Maine Student Rights Full Overview

    Maine Student Rights FAQ

    Maine Trans Student Rights

     

    Suicide Prevention

                Text TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200

     

    Sexual Assault Services

    1-800-822-5999 (Knox, Waldo, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Eastern Cumberland Counties).

    1-800-871-7741 (anywhere in Maine)