Post submitted by Vincent “Vinnie” Pompei, Youth Well-Being Director and Andi Salinas, Youth Well-Being Manager
Human Rights Campaign Foundation in partnership with the School Social Work Association of America has released a new resource for school social workers that offers tips as COVID-19 continues to impact LGBTQ students across the country.
The resource addresses the emerging issues specific to LGBTQ youth that are now using online platforms to connect with students. In addition to addressing student safety and privacy, it covers supporting students without affirming families, promoting resiliency and equity and connecting students to LGBTQ-affirming online resources.
When working with students, school social workers must create safe, affirming virtual spaces, especially for students in unsupportive households. To ensure privacy, school social workers should check with the student which name and/or pronouns should be used, as family members may be able to listen in on the virtual conversation. School social workers can also facilitate a virtual LGBTQ support group or offer to be a staff advisor for an LGBTQ student club, such as a GSA, so students can feel connected outside of their homes.
School social workers can connect students with affirming and potentially life-saving resources such as The Trevor Project, which offers confidential support for LGBTQ youth. School counselors can also help students identify LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities, locate scholarships for LGBTQ students and LGBTQ-inclusive places to work. These culturally relevant resources help students think beyond current challenges while allowing them to develop goals and plans for their future.
The SSWAA is an official partner of HRC’s Project THRIVE, a multi-year national campaign to create more equitable, inclusive support systems and communities for LGBTQ youth. The association previously adopted a comprehensive resolution on promoting the well-being of LGBTQ students, which states that LGBTQ students should have access to inclusive and affirming school social work services and programs, as well as school social workers adequately trained in LGBTQ issues.