Eliminating heteronormativity and creating positive school climates for LGBTQ youth in K-12 schools

Developing an LGBTQ identity may be difficult for youth to do, as they grow up in a society that assumes heterosexual to be "normal" and often adheres to strict gender roles. As a result, when LGBTQ youth begin to form their sexual minority identity, they may face numerous challenges. This may lead them to engage in risk behaviors and puts them at an increased danger for suicide. Risk factors and protective factors both exist, which may prove to be the key to understanding what can be changed or supported to best help this population. By implementing multicultural education strategies in K-12 schools, heteronormativity and heterosexism may be addressed early on in children's lives, while continuing to support differences as students become aware of their sexual identity. Ways in which to incorporate LGBTQ issues into curriculum by using multicultural education will be discussed, and a project for school counselors to educate school staff members will be created.