IEL works collaboratively to increase access to education and workforce opportunities, so all children and families can create the lives they want to live. By partnering with community leaders across different ages, experience levels, and sectors, IEL’s fulfills its mission to ensure that all voices—including those of youth, communities of color, and people with disabilities—are heard and amplified. Our work shows us that students do their best when they are learning in a welcoming environment in which they can be their authentic selves, including for LGBTQIA+ students, parents, and teachers.
However, LGBTQIA+ students and their rights are currently under attack in our nation’s schools and communities. We have seen an alarming increase of censorship and even outright banning of discussion, curriculum, and learning materials about sexual and gender identity in cities and states across the country. Even more harmful, in 2021, legislatures in 22 states introduced bills that ban or create significant barriers to often life-saving medical care and gender-affirming treatments for transgender youth. According to the White House, 45 percent of LGBTQIA+ youth “seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year — a devastating reality that our Nation must work urgently to address.”
As leaders in education, we have a responsibility to do more for ALL of our youth, whether it’s providing more student supports around mental health, ensuring diverse representation in school curriculum, or supporting positive policy change. We have a responsibility to act in the spirit of Pride month all year round!
IEL and our partners will continue to work with communities to prepare, support, and mobilize leaders that want to help affirm the lived experiences of all children and youth, and provide inclusive health education. We continue to champion family and community engagement as a core component of working together with schools, teachers, and students to provide a quality education, as well as Community School partnerships that can help bring in services from health providers and educators, mental health services, and more.
To all the LGBTQIA+ youth, parents, and teachers: We see you. You Matter. Happy Pride.