Youth and Safe Schools

Youth and Safe Schools

South Carolinians believe that protecting others—particularly those who cannot protect themselves—is a core personal value and a tenet of most faith traditions. And yet, many South Carolina children face discrimination, harassment, bullying, and homelessness.

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SC Equality is committed to building a state in which every young person’s identity as LGBT is honored, celebrated, respected, and supported.

  • No child should fear going to school because of harassment. Every South Carolina student—including young people who are gay and transgender—deserves an education free from the harmful physical and emotional effects of harassment and bullying. In schools across South Carolina, thousands of children dread going to school to face the taunts, jeers, humiliation, physical intimidation and pain inflicted through harassment and bullying.

  • Currently there is no law in South Carolina prohibiting discrimination in public schools based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Although a few school districts have policies prohibiting such discrimination, students, parents and teachers in many school districts throughout the state have no protection. The State of South Carolina should prohibit discrimination based on ethnicity, skin color, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or national origin of the employee, student, or student’s parent.

  • Every student deserves a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future, including students who are transgender. Every student should be treated fairly and equally under the law, and protecting transgender students helps ensure that they have the same opportunity as their classmates to fully participate in school. Forcing transgender students into restrooms that don’t match their gender identity puts their safety at risk. School administrators have long been able to accommodate the needs of their students without banning transgender students from common spaces. School districts across the country have successfully worked to ensure that transgender students have access to facilities that match their gender identity while still protecting the privacy of all students. A school’s responsibility and ability to keep all students safe is not compromised by allowing a transgender student to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.

  • Every child deserves loving parents who care for them, but not every child is blessed with such parents. When we don’t care for these kids, we as a state lose out on the gift of their potential. A 2014 study indicates that as many as 40% of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. While homelessness among all youth is a great concern, research indicates that LGBT homeless youth are at a far greater risk of suicide and sexual assault. Current law requires parental consent for most minors to be able to access housing services such as homeless shelters. This requirement prevents LGBTQ youth who may have been kicked out by their parents from accessing safe housing. LGBTQ minors with unsupportive parents need a pathway to access safe housing. South Carolina should create a mechanism to allow minors experiencing parental abandonment, or who face unsafe situations at home, to legally arrange for their own housing.

  • Every young person’s identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender should be honored, celebrated and supported. Few practices hurt LGBT youth more than attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through so-called “conversion therapy”, which can cause depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. But some mental health providers continue to subject young LGBT people to these practices—also known as “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay therapy,” or “sexual orientation change efforts”—even though they have been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the country. South Carolina should create a penalty for licensed health professionals who claim their treatment can change the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of a minor.