LGBTQ students often face increased levels of exclusion in the education system and, according to Suicide Prevention Lifeline are more likely to struggle with their mental health than other students. The pandemic has harmed the mental health of many young people. It is, therefore, crucial that you are supporting LGBTQ students through this time. Here are some suggestions that might help you to support an LGBTQ student during the pandemic.
Make Sure They Feel Included
Politico.com has argued that being disconnected from face to face support can mean LGBTQ youth face additional hurdles while feeling very fragile. Ensure that you are up to speed with the latest distance learning information and resources for K-12 students. By having a firm grasp on the tools and resources at your disposal, you can use a variety of remote learning techniques to ensure better engagement with LGBTQ youth. By ensuring your remote learning classroom is welcoming and inclusive, you will foster better relationships with your students and nurture the friendships students have built up with each other through their school years.
Know Where To Find Extra Support
LGBTQ students may need extra support during this time. Take a moment to research the charities that offer support and services to LGBTQ youth in your area. There are some fantastic charities offering support and resources online if local charities cannot support your student at the moment. It might be important for the student to feel part of a community, and therefore knowing what support is out there for them might be hugely beneficial and help them to maintain their well being.
Virtual classrooms may reduce the opportunities for bullies but Huffington Post reports that cyberbullying is still likely to exist. It may be harder for a teacher to spot if a student is being bullied or excluded from social groups during online classes. Teachers need to keep alert so that they can pick up on any signs that bullying might be occurring within the classroom. Online learning needs constant vigilance to ensure the safety of LGBTQ students.
Communication is the easiest way to monitor the health and wellbeing of your students. Take time to communicate with them and with their parents or guardians. Ask how they are getting on and how you can help them with feeling comfortable in the new learning environment. Make yourself open to them so they always have someone to reach out to if they are struggling or feeling isolated.
Mental Health Training
Finally, according to the CDC, over 10% of children in the USA have a diagnosis of depression or anxiety. Evidence suggests this rate increases for LGBTQ students. You should be aware of mental health symptoms that might be a flag for concern and indicate your student has a mental health condition. There are a variety of courses online for mental health first aid that will help you identify any mental health trouble a student might face during the pandemic. Offer support where you can but always refer to professional medical advice if you are concerned that a student has developed a mental health condition.