Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are a vulnerable population that often face criticisms both within and outside their homes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBT youth are more than two times more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide, when compared to their heterosexual peers (CDC, 2017). This likely stems from other issues they face throughout their lives. In fact, according to a study conducted from 2001 until 2009 across the United States, 12-18% of LGBT students had been threatened or assaulted with a weapon, 18-29% had experienced dating violence within the past 12 months, and 14-32% had been sexually assaulted. To combat these issues, an action plan revolving around peer encouragement and understanding has been created. This plan will focus on helping youth understand the issues faced by their LGBT peers from a young age, to create more liberal and open-minded youth as they grow up. Through this, all youth will begin to accept the differences and similarities between themselves and their LGBT peers, and will promote it and discourage discrimination within their own lives. One of the key segments of this action plan relies on the psychological theory of Connectivism, how people can learn and share across the Internet (Siemens, 2005). We hope that by teaching segments of youth about the importance of discouraging bullying and discrimination, that this will translate into their online worlds as well.
Another key theory is the pedagogical approach of Multiliteracies, or making learning more inclusive of people’s different cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation, or racial differences (The New London Group, 1996). The use of this psychological learning theory will help teachers to better prepare their students for successful and accepting lives in the real world. The final psychological theory to be utilized is Social Learning Theory, or the theory that individuals learn through watching others, imitating them, and modeling those behaviours (Bandura, 1977). If we demonstrate to our youth that we accept and understand our LGBT peers, then they are more likely to do the same, and vice versa. This action plan aligns with the ethical guidelines of Education and Training that psychologists must meet when teaching or designing programs. This means that the action plan is designed to ensure the appropriate knowledge and experiences are drawn from (Standard 7.01), that the course syllabi are accurate (Standard 7.03), and that students will not have to disclose any personal details in their learning experiences (Standard 7.04). Through utilizing this plan and the accompanied theories, we can stop the issue of the high LGBT suicide rate by going to the root of the problem: bullying and discrimination. In making these behaviours unacceptable early on, this will translate to a greater variety of people becoming LGBT allies, and stopping others from committing discriminating behaviours. In turn, this will help decrease the LGBT suicide rate in youth, and help them become more well-adjusted and accomplished individuals.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: General Press.
CDC. (2017, March 9). LGBT Youth. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm
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Rodriguez, L., & Gatlin, D. (2014, July 21). New Study: LGBT Youth More Likely than Heterosexual Youth to Attempt Suicide – See more at: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/press-releases/21-july-2014/#sthash.G65NQHi5.dpuf. Retrieved from The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/press-releases/21-july-2014/
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 3-10. Retrieved from Learning Theories: https://www.learning-theories.com/connectivism-siemens-downes.html
The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard educational review, 60-93.
Youth.Gov. (2017). Behavioral Health. Retrieved from Youth.Gov: http://youth.gov/youth-topics/lgbtq-youth/health-depression-and-suicide