School-Based Gay-Affirmative Interventions: First Amendment and Ethical Concerns
*Published in the American Journal of Public Health
Public health professionals and educators have developed effective school-based interventions to reduce prejudice and stigma against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. These interventions can reduce the harm caused to sexual minority youths by stigma and can improve health outcomes. Critics have warned that these interventions attempt to control speech and religious beliefs protected by the First Amendment. Legal and ethical analysis shows that, both legally and ethically, there is great leeway for schools to implement LGBT-affirmative interventions. It is recommended that interventionists, especially where community opposition to LGBT rights is prevalent, attend critics’ concerns by using principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR). CBPR would involve communities with schools to assure LGBT students are protected and that all students have freedom to express their views in ways that are respectful and safe for LGBT students.