Las Vegas, Nev. – Silver State Equality, Nevada’s statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy nonprofit, released a report today featuring data collected in 2023 from student surveys and listening sessions conducted in partnership with the organization’s LGBTQ+ Student Advisory Council. The report presents data and student comments on LGBTQ+ youth experiences within Nevada’s high schools in Clark, Douglas, Elko, Lincoln, Nye and Washoe counties. Students in grades 7-12 were invited to participate in the survey that was broadly distributed statewide.
“If we as adults are going to effectively advocate for LGBTQ+ youth, it is essential to learn and understand from LGBTQ+ students, themselves, what they experience every day in their school environments,” said André C. Wade, State Director for Silver State Equality. “What we found is heartbreaking. Yet, the outcomes can serve as a driving force to help develop programs and campaigns that empower the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to combat discrimination, blatant lies, hate and other divisive tactics that negatively impact our schools and LGBTQ+ students.”
Wade specifically points to school districts like Clark County, where a local chapter of Moms for Liberty is disrupting school district business, bullying LGBTQ+ students and their families, intimidating school board members, and campaigning for school board seats.
“While it’s true Nevada leads the nation in providing legal protections for its LGBTQ+ citizens, especially transgender youth, there are groups right here in Nevada whose goal is to drive LGBTQ+ Americans back into the closet and erase transgender people from all aspects of daily life,” Wade said.
Silver State Equality’s 2023 Youth Survey Key Findings
The results of Silver State Equality’s 2023 Youth Survey reveal persistent challenges for LGBTQ+ youth in terms of acceptance and support from peers, school faculty and staff. More than three-fifths of respondents reported bullying by peers within the last six month for being LGBTQ+, and 55.8 percent reported never or rarely feeling safe talking with school counselors. Transgender and non-cisgender students, especially in rural areas, experience further challenges, including higher rates of bullying and institutional discrimination due to a lack of inclusive school policies and procedures that create obstacles to LGBTQ+ youth safety and well-being. While many students feel Nevada is a good place for LGBTQ+ people to live relative to other states because of existing legislation, they still experience significant anxiety as a result of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment with nearly 40% of students surveyed reporting they do not feel safe at school. Overall, LGBTQ+ students need to receive more support from school officials to feel secure and thrive at school. Additionally, nearly three-fourths of student respondents say their school has inadequate resources for LGBTQ+ students such as the inclusion of LGBTQ+ history into the curriculum.
Key Findings: Discrimination and Bullying
Student Statement: “The [school] climate right now is very toxic and mentally taxing” – (Nevada 12th grader).
Student Statement: “It’s hard sometimes, every time I hear about hate happening anywhere, I get a little more scared to leave my house and go to school. I know legally I’m protected in Nevada but individually I don’t feel it as much.” – (Nevada 10th grader).
Key Finding: Inclusivity in School Resources and Curriculum
Student comment: “I feel as though there needs to be more education and speaking in schools about LGBTQ+ issues and learning about LGBTQ+ history.” – (Nevada 9th grader).
Call To Action
“This is a call to action to support and protect our young people,” said Wade. “That’s why Silver State Equality is calling for state and local governments to invest in the mental health of young people by funding programs to expand the number of mental health providers in Nevada, specifically those who deliver services for LGBTQ+ youth, as well as therapists specifically trained in LGBTQ+ issues.” Wade points to the 2023 Trevor Project survey in which 56 percent of LGBTQ+ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it. The survey also reported that youth who found their school to be LGBTQ+ affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide. “Silver State Equality recommends an enumerated anti-bullying law that begins with decreasing institutional discrimination, setting the tone for the way LGBTQ+ students are treated by their peers. Additionally, school staff (teachers, administrators, counselors, nurses) should be required to receive diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging training that is inclusive of LGBTQ+ content and resources.”
Read the full report here.
As Nevada’s statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, Silver State Equality brings the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in Nevada and throughout the U.S. Silver State Equality strives to create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. Silver State Equality is a Nevada-based program affiliated with and supported by Equality California and Equality California Institute, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. More information at SilverStateEquality.org.