Know Your School’s LGBT Rights

You’ve done your homework as a parent to prepare your child for possible bullying, harassment.  According to GLSEN figures, you can expect bullying.  Approximately 85% of high school students report being harassed in school because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, 64% of students document that they are harassed because of their real or perceived gender identity, and 31% of LGBT students surveyed said they are harassed for their perceived gender expression.

As I wrote in my last blog, there are ways you can make your school your ally.  However, the statistics point to the fact that only 18% of LGBT students report that their schools have policies which offer comprehensive protections.  So, what can a parent do?

You can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Education Department.  You are entitled to file a claim because public schools receive federal funding and are consequently protected under Title IX. It prohibits harassment, including protections for gender expansive students who don’t conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity.  It does NOT prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

 Time is of the essence.  You must file within 180 days of when the bullying, harassment or discrimination took place.

To file a complaint:

  • Your claim remains confidential and will not be shared without permission.
  • A third party may file a claim on behalf of another person.  A family member, school faculty member or a friend can file the complaint.
  • The school cannot retaliate against anyone who has made a complaint or testified, assisted or participated in any investigation or proceeding under Title IX.
  • Fill out the entire form.  If you don’t complete the entire form, your complaint will be dismissed.

To file a complaint:

Questions?  Contact:

PFLAG National:  Diego Sanchez, Director of Policy.  Phone: 202 – 467-8180, x 221.  Email:

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Public Policy Office:  Nathan Smith, Director of Public Policy.  Phone:  202-621-5815. Email:

Washington DC (Metro) Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education.  Phone: 202.453-6020.  TDD:  877-521-2172. Email:  The Office for Civil Rights enforces Title IX.  The Office for Civil Rights has field offices in 12 U.S. states.

The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education is headquartered in Washington.  Customer Service Hotline  – (800) 421-3481.Email: Web:

When Your Child is Gay

When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know

For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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