"Don't Leave Us Out": Focus Groups Reflect LGBTQ+ Students' School Experience

LGBTQ+ students often feel like their schools miss the mark when it comes to providing education and support, according to new focus group findings.

SHIFT NC has released a series of white papers based on focus groups conducted with LGBTQ+ students between 2019 and 2020. The series, "Don't Leave Us Out," detail how LGBTQ+ students experience school, and offer opportunities for schools to improve services. 

"Don't Leave Us Out" is based on input from students in Alexander, Burke, Catawba, Cumberland, Mecklenburg, Wake, and Washington counties gathered in-person before the COVID-19 public health emergency and then continuing via Zoom. Participants reflected on their experiences with sex education, as well as their broader experiences in the school environment. The resulting white papers focus on sex education, school policies, resources and support for staff and students, and schools' responses to anti-LGBTQ+ remarks and bullying, and offer guidance to help schools and advocates work to improve schools for LGBTQ+ students. 

Read the "Don't Leave Us Out" Series: 

"Don't Leave Us Out": Sex Education in North Carolina

"Don't Leave Us Out": School Policies in North Carolina

"Don't Leave Us Out": Resources and Support for Staff and Students in North Carolina

"Don't Leave Us Out": Responding to Anti-LGBTQ+ Remarks in the Classroom



Thanks to the young people who shared their experiences during these focus groups, and to the partners and host sites who helped make focus groups possible. Thanks to the Laughing Gull Foundation for funding this important research. Thanks to Dr. Bianka Reese, Tommy White, and Tania Connaughton-Espino for conducting this research and authoring the white papers, and to Miller Russell for designing the research in its initial phase.