Lambda Legal works for respect and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, adult professionals and LGBT-headed families in schools and other organized youth activities, such as the Boy Scouts. Our work in this area goes back to the 1970s when we helped persuade a court to force the University of New Hampshire to treat a gay student group like every other group on campus. Since then we have secured first-ever federal court rulings that schools must protect gay students from violence and harassment and that gay-straight alliances must be allowed to meet under the same rules as other student groups. We also negotiated a first-ever federal court settlement recognizing the constitutional right of lesbian and gay youth to be out at school. Through vital outreach and support to youth allies and advocates, we help shape mainstream America's awareness and understanding of LGBTQ youth, making clear the harm that antigay discrimination causes all young people.
As more and more youth at earlier ages recognize and accept their sexual orientation or gender identity, their presence in schools has grown. Yet harassment of LGBTQ students remains a common problem across the country. According to a 2005 GLSEN survey, 75.4 percent of students heard remarks about lesbian or gay students. The same survey found that one-third of students experienced physical harassment at schools because of their sexual orientation, while one-fourth of students experienced physical harassment because of their gender expression. The average grade point average of LGBTQ students who experienced frequent physical harassment was a full point lower than students who experienced less harassment, according to the GLSEN survey.
Lambda Legal's Impact
Lambda Legal's leadership over the years has had a profound influence on this area of law and helped create more open institutions where LGBTQ youth are safe and secure, able to enjoy an education free of discrimination, as well as seen, heard and given the chance to reach their full potential and grow into healthy and successful adults.
Our landmark victories have allowed more and more young people to be open, safe and treated equally in schools. And our case challenging discrimination in the Boy Scouts significantly advanced the national discussion about the needs of gay youth and the fitness of gay adults to participate in this iconic organization. In addition to our litigation work, Lambda Legal serves as a central legal resource for youth and schools and provides educational opportunities and training for youth and teachers and administrators.