The numbers are staggering.

73% of LGBTQI+ students face mental health challenges according to a survey by the Trevor Project. The question for educators is how you can help these students feel supported and feel like they have a trusted adult they can turn to for help. The U.S. Department of Education created an education toolkit to help educators answer this question and much more. Below are excerpts from that toolkit to guide your thinking and conversations going forward.

Using welcoming and inclusive language

in school and district mission statements and other similar communications that express a commitment to providing a safe, supportive, and nondiscriminatory educational environment for all students, including LGBTQI+ students.

Facilitating opportunities for students to find support

from peers, teachers, and staff, such as student-led organizations, and identifying supportive spaces on campus. For example, teachers and administrators can help students establish a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) to help build a more inclusive school environment. According to the CDC, when schools implement supportive policies and practices for LGBTQI+ youth, all students experience less emotional distress, less violence and harassment, and fewer suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Expanding mental health resources that meet the needs of LGBTQI+ students.

CDC research shows that LGBTQI+ youth are more likely to experience depression and other mental health challenges than their peers, often associated with their experience of higher levels of stigmatization and discrimination. These students need additional mental health support available to them in school with the hopes of turning those negative feelings into ones that allow all students to feel equal and included.

Keep politics out of the classroom,

as well as religious materials. Schools should remain politically neutral, but if you’re a civics teacher this may seem like a difficult task. It’s important to remember that teaching politics or discussion about the latest election isn’t being political, it’s teaching politics. You never want to bring to light a candidate that could impact the students in your room in a negative way. But with that reminder, not all politics is political.

LGBTQ+ Youth facing mental-health challenges and more

Nearly three-quarters of LGBTQ+ youth report symptoms of anxiety. More than a third say they have been physically threatened or hurt.