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‘Heartbreaking’ findings in survey of Nevada LGBTQ+ students

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Michael Lyle, Nevada Current
February 14, 2024

Nevada LGBTQ+ students say they don’t feel safe talking with school staff and face discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, according to new findings from Silver State Equality. 

The LGBTQ+ advocacy group recently released the results of its “2023 Nevada LGBTQ+ Student Survey and Listening Campaign” report, which collected stories from Nevada youth statewide to learn about the struggles youth are experiencing.

Nearly 80% of students who identify as LGBTQ+ reported discrimination, with transgender and gender-nonconforming students, in particular those in rural schools, saying they faced higher levels than cisgender students. 

Another 56% of students don’t feel safe talking with school counselors while 42% don’t feel comfortable going to the school nurse. More than three-fifths of those surveyed reported being bullied in the last six months. 

André Wade, state director for Silver State Equality, called the results from the report “heartbreaking.”

He hoped policymakers would use the findings to “develop programs and campaigns that empower the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to combat discrimination, blatant lies, hate and other divisive tactics that negatively impact our schools and LGBTQ+ students.” 

“If we as adults are going to effectively advocate for LGBTQ+ youth, it is essential to learn and understand from LGBTQ+ students, themselves, what they experience every day in their school environments,” Wade said. 

The call for greater resources and protections for youth come as more extremists groups are pushing school districts and state legislatures to implement harsh anti-LGBTQ+ agendas.  

Wade specifically pointed to Moms for Liberty, which the Southern Poverty Law Centers identifies as a far-right, anti-government organization. 

The national group has advocated against gay and trans rights, supported book bans and opposed efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in schools in recent years. 

It launched a chapter in Clark County last year. 

Members of the group have shown up at Clark County School District board meetings to oppose protections for gender-diverse students mandated by state law.  

Silver State Equality’s report also noted that nearly 40% of students indicated they didn’t have access to curriculum that was LGBTQ+ inclusive. 

Lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 261 in 2021, which requires school districts to expand age-appropriate curriculum to include people from typically marginalized groups who’ve made “contributions to science, the arts and humanities.”

In addition to including the LGBTQ+ community, the bill also includes those from various racial backgrounds, immigrants or refugees, people with disabilities and those from various religious backgrounds. 

The report released Tuesday also included several policy recommendations, such as investing in mental health resources for youth, especially LGBTQ+ youth, and training school staff on specifically working with LGBTQ+ youth. 

As more Republican-led state legislatures have proposed and adopted anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ measures, Nevada has trended in the opposite direction in recent years. 

The ACLU said it tracked 508 bills attacking LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S. in 2023, with 84 of them enacted into law, including bills prohibiting gender-affirming care for trans youth and restricting LGBTQ materials in schools. 

By contrast, Nevada advanced protections last year, including legislation mandating that

the Nevada Department of Corrections to adopt regulations for protecting and housing transgender inmates, and a measure requiring health insurers to provide coverage for medically necessary treatments for trans and gender-nonconforming people.. 

Both bills were signed into law by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo. 

Lombardo also vetoed a bill that would have prevented the governor from surrendering a person charged with a criminal violation in another state for receiving gender-affirming services in Nevada. The bill would have prohibited health care licensing boards from disqualifying or disciplining a provider for offering gender-affirming care. Lawmakers recently said they plan to reintroduce the legislation again when the legislature is next scheduled to meet in February 2025.

There is still more the state could do to advance LGBTQ+ rights, Wade said. 

“While it’s true Nevada leads the nation in providing legal protections for its LGBTQ+ citizens, especially transgender youth, there are groups right here in Nevada whose goal is to drive LGBTQ+ Americans back into the closet and erase transgender people from all aspects of daily life,” he said.

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: info@nevadacurrent.com. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.