An Overview of the Resolution on Gender and Sexual Orientation Diversity in Children and Adolescents in Schools

By Anhalt, Karla; Magalhães, Cristina L. et al. | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, November 2015 | Go to article overview

An Overview of the Resolution on Gender and Sexual Orientation Diversity in Children and Adolescents in Schools


Anhalt, Karla, Magalhães, Cristina L., Klotz, Mary Beth, National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


This article provides an overview of the joint Resolution on Gender and Sexual Orientation Diversity in Children and Adolescents in Schools that was adopted by the American Psychological Association's (APA) Council of Representatives (CoR) and the National Association of School Psychologists' (NASP) Leadership Assembly during the summer of 2014 (APA & NASP, 2014). We begin by describing the original resolution adopted by APA and NASP in 1993, highlighting aspects that were incorporated in the 2014 version, and noting the various groups that participated in writing the updated document. A summary of the 2014 resolution follows, along with a review of supplemental resources, and a discussion of potential school psychologist roles in implementing the resolution.

A resolution focusing on sexual minority youth in schools was first adopted by APA in 1993 (DeLeon, 1993). At the time, the limited psychological research focused on the needs of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adolescents. The 1993 document addressed health and mental health risks that had been reported at the time (e.g., increased risk of self-injurious behavior and HIV infection) and the experience of harassment and physical violence in school settings. The Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youths in the Schools 1993 resolution called for APA and NASP to take leadership roles in promoting safe and secure educational environments for LGB youth, to develop and evaluate interventions addressing the needs of these students, and to advocate for funding targeting prevention and risk reduction for this population (DeLeon, 1993).

Approximately 20 years after the 1993 resolution on LGB Youths in the Schools was adopted by NASP and APA, a workgroup was formed to develop an updated resolution. The workgroup was composed of representatives from NASP and APA. It included representation from APA's Division 44 Children, Youth, and Families Committee; Division 44's Committee for Transgender People and Gender Diversity; and Division 16. Individuals from the APA's Committee on Children, Youth, and Families and APA's Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity also participated in the workgroup. Additionally, staff from the APA's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns Office served as the liaison to APA governance. Workgroup members representing NASP included the LGBTQI2-S committee chairperson and the staff liaison to this committee.

Although there is still a great deal of work to be done in research and policy arenas, the scientific literature focusing on sexual minority and gender diverse children and adolescents has been flourishing in the last two decades. While writing the 2014 resolution, the workgroup identified many new areas to address. First, this document is applicable to students of all ages in K-12 school settings and the language incorporates issues of children and adolescents throughout the document. Second, the 2014 resolution integrates the needs of students who are transgender, intersex, and/or gender diverse. It acknowledges that gender identity develops in early childhood and that some young children do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth. The 2014 resolution calls for affirmation of diverse gender expressions, regardless of gender identity, and an understanding of gender beyond a binary classification. It calls for school staff to support the decisions of children, adolescents, and families regarding a student's gender identity or expression, and endorses access to sex-segregated facilities consistent with an individual's gender identity. The 2014 resolution stresses how the right to privacy with regard to sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex/disorders of sex development (DSD) condition, or transgender status is critical to a student's wellbeing and safety. Third, the 2014 resolution emphasizes issues of intersectionality and includes unique needs of students with disabilities, and students from diverse racial/ethnic groups, religious identities, and geographic locations, among others (APA & NASP, 2014). …

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