Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Addressing Gender & Sexuality in the Classroom and the Effects on Adolescents

  • Author(s): Mendez, Maya Cecilia
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

This literature review presents research examining the school environment for LGBTQ students and the type of effects a positively and negatively perceived environment can have on these students as well as on educators and peers. Bullying and harassment are still a concern in schools despite there having been advancements in anti-bullying programs and policies (Poteat & Vecho, 2016). This is especially true for LGBTQ students. There have been recent changes in the sociopolitical climate and the movement to support this group of students but still, they continue to face harassment and lack of support from the educators and school administrations (Dragowski, McCabe, & Rubinson, 2016).

Not only do LGBTQ students face difficulty with their peers and even teachers but also with their education. There is pushback against more inclusive sexual education that addresses sexuality beyond heteronormativity and gender nonconformity (Gegenfurtner & Gebhardt, 2017). However, we see that it is this lack of education that can result in LGBTQ students not feeling safe in schools because uneducated students may harass them and teachers may not know how to respond when a student is being harassed or is in need of someone to talk to (Dragowski et al., 2016).

This literature review will look at what LGBTQ students face at school in regard to bullying from their peers as well as discussions for and against discussing gender and sexuality in the classroom and what affects both having and not having school support has on the LGBTQ students. Literature that discussed elementary aged children or college aged students were excluded. Research was limited between the years of 2013 and 2018 with the exception of Heteronormativity, school climates, and perceived safety for gender nonconforming peers by Toomey, R. B., McGuire, J. K., & Russell, S. T., 2012.

For this literature review, “adolescence” has been defined as: being between the ages of 13 and 19; being of middle school and high school age. “Heteronormativity” has been defined in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as “[t]he property or quality of being heteronormative; the privileging of biologically determined gender roles and heterosexuality”. “Gender nonconformity” has been defined by Merriam Webster as “a state in which a person has physical and behavioral characteristics that do not correspond with those typically associated with the person's sex”.

The databases used to find the literature were: Science Direct, specifically looking in the Journal of School Psychology; Wiley Online Library database, specifically in the journal Psychology for the Schools; and psychARTICLES in ProQuest. The key words used were: “gender”, “sexuality”, “LGBTQ”, and “gender” AND “sexuality”.

Main Content
Current View