A new CDC survey shows state-by-state changes across eight domains of LGBTQ support in public schools.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a new survey this month on LGBTQ student support in the American Journal of Public Health. The study highlights changes across eight domains of LGBTQ youth student support in public secondary schools in 37 different states from 2008-14 (data for Pennsylvania is aggregated and presented below). These domains ask what proportion of schools in each state:

  1. Have a gay-straight alliance (GSA) or similar club
  2. Identify safe spaces for LGBTQ youth
  3. Prohibit harassment against LGBTQ identities
  4. Encourage staff to attend professional development on safe and supportive environments (SSE)
  5. Facilitate access to providers not on school property who have experience in providing health services to LGBTQ youth
  6. Facilitate access to providers not on school property who have experience in providing social and psychological services to LGBTQ youth
  7. Employee a lead health teacher who has received professional development on teaching students of different sexual orientations or gender identities
  8. Provides curricula or supplementary materials that include HIV, STD, or pregnancy prevention information that is relevant to LGBTQ youth

Notable Findings

  • In 50% or more of the states surveyed, 7 of the 8 domains did not see a change over time
  • More increases than decreases occurred study-wide, but the most common result seen in every domain across every state was “No change”
  • Massachusetts and New Hampshire were the only two states to demonstrate improvement across all 8 domains; Hawaii was the only state to demonstrate a decrease across all 8 domains
  • Identifying safe spaces was the only domain that saw improvement in over half (72.2%) of the states surveyed
  • Prohibiting harassment against LGBTQ identities had the highest median engagement of any domain (90.3%, 2014) across all 37 states surveyed
  • Facilitating access to off-campus LGBTQ competent and sensitive service providers saw improvement in Northeastern states, such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, but also in Southern states, like Oklahoma, Georgia, and Alabama, where HIV testing and referral, especially in youth, is seeing increased attention


For many of the domains in question, there exist a number of available resources for educators and students to access to being to make improvements within their own school communities. A few examples are provided below:

Pennsylvania State-Specific Stats:

Percentage of secondary schools that engaged in practices related to support of LGBTQ youth —Pennsylvania, 2008-2014. Unadjusted logistic regression models, run separately for each practice, examined linear trends in the percentage of secondary schools that engaged in the 8 practices to support LGBTQ youths.


You can read the full text of the study in the American Journal of Public Health here: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304296