Lesbian and Gay Youth Protection Institute Is Founded Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The founding of the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth, which inspired the first high schools for gay and lesbian teens, confronted the accusation that gay and lesbian teachers were a threat to children and instead pointed out that the real threats in the schools were the social and cultural norms against homosexuality and other differences among students.

Summary of Event

In 1952, the top two justifications for dismissing a teacher in the United States were the accusations that the teacher in question was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party or was lesbian or gay. While the Civil Rights and other movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s ushered in unprecedented freedom and visibility for lesbian and gay adults, the domain of children remained a highly reactive and moralized territory, drawing the ongoing fire of political and religious conservatives. [kw]Lesbian and Gay Youth Protection Institute Is Founded (1982) [kw]Gay Youth Protection Institute Is Founded, Lesbian and (1982) [kw]Youth Protection Institute Is Founded, Lesbian and Gay (1982) Lesbian and Gay Youth Protection Institute Youth Protection Institute, Lesbian and Gay Schools;for GLBT youth[GLBT youth] Education;GLBT youth Hetrick-Martin Institute[Hetrick Martin] [c]Organizations and institutions;1982: Lesbian and Gay Youth Protection Institute Is Founded[1500] Ashkinazy, Steve Hetrick, Emery Hunter, Joyce Martin, Damien

Some exceptions existed, though. In 1975, the Chicago board of education gave public school teachers permission to answer student’s questions about homosexuality, and the San Francisco school board agreed to include information on homosexuality in the district’s sex education curriculum in 1977. The national climate, however, was represented more accurately by Anita Bryant’s 1977 “Save Our Children” campaign in Florida, which garnered 70 percent of the local vote to repeal Dade County’s antidiscrimination clause that protected gays and lesbians. A 1978 initiative in California, sponsored by John V. Briggs, was defeated, but a similar proposal passed that same year in Oklahoma, thus allowing for the firing of any teacher advocating, encouraging, or otherwise promoting homosexuality.

Faced with ongoing accusations that homosexuals would both recruit and assault children, revolutionary gay activists responded to the ways in which these accusations and state initiatives threatened the civil rights of adults, but they shied away from direct interventions with and support of children. In large part, this left LGBT youth unprotected against harassment, violence, Antigay violence;against youth[youth] and rejection in their schools, communities, and homes.

In 1979, a New York youth had been gang-raped and beaten at a youth shelter and was subsequently evicted from the same shelter because he was gay. The rape, beating, and eviction was soon discussed at political meetings in New York and came to the attention of Emery Hetrick, a psychiatrist, and Damien Martin, a New York University professor. The couple organized the Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth (IPLGY), a group of professionals, primarily social workers and psychiatrists, who met to find ways to provide services to gay and lesbian youth. The organization would confront the charge made by Bryant and others that homosexuals were a threat to children, and point out instead that the real threat came from the conservative norms that put LGBT children at such risk.

Hetrick and Martin organized a major conference on gay and lesbian youth for social service professionals. This conference and other social service interventions also led by them drew the attention of a wealthy patron who provided $50,000 to establish a formal office. By 1983, they had established social service contracts with the city’s Youth Bureau and Division for Youth and immediately began serving clients. In 1984, IPLGY provided services to one hundred youth in person and many others through telephone counseling. Those numbers tripled the following year as IPLGY developed after-school and hot meals programs, classes, group activities, and performances. IPLGY also became the first organization in New York City to start an AIDS- and HIV-prevention HIV-AIDS[HIV AIDS];and youth education[youth education] education program for adolescents. In 1988, IPLGY was renamed the Hetrick-Martin Institute.

Two staff members, Joyce Hunter and Steve Ashkinazy, noticed that many of their clients were not attending school. New York City board of education policy allowed for an on-site teacher at agencies with twenty-two or more clients who had dropped out of education. IPLGY would hire a teacher in 1985 and announce the opening of Harvey Milk High School Harvey Milk High School, New York City (HMHS), a school for at-risk LGBT youth. The school served twenty students its first year and was devoted to providing education and support to students facing significant harassment in other New York City schools, with the goals of reintegrating them into their schools or providing them the opportunity to obtain their high school diploma. The student composition in 2003 consisted of close to one hundred students, 75 percent of whom were African American and Latino or Latina. Graduation rates at HMHS have averaged 95 percent. In 2003, HMHS was granted “full-school” status by the city, and was granted $3.2 million to renovate and expand its physical structure.

Outside New York City around this time, other events related to LGBT youth also had been unfolding. In a small town in Rhode Island, Aaron Fricke went to court to win the right to take a male date to his high school prom in 1980. Fricke chronicled this experience in a 1981 book called Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story About Growing Up Gay. Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story About Growing Up Gay (Fricke) Also in 1980, Alyson Publications published Young, Gay, and Proud!, Young, Gay, and Proud! (Alyson, ed.) edited by Sasha Alyson, and began collecting submissions for a subsequent book called One Teenager in 10: Writings by Gay and Lesbian Youth (1983), One Teenager in 10 (Heron, ed.) edited by Ann Heron. The first annual conference of the Gay Father’s Coalition, later named the Family Pride Network, met in 1980. In 1982, Byton High School, Byton High School, Philadelphia a short-lived and small gay high school, was established in Philadelphia and graduated four students in 1983.

Educator Virginia Uribe surveyed the ten largest school districts in the United States for her doctoral dissertation in psychology and discovered a scarcity of resources for LGBT students. In 1984, catalyzed by these results and by her own experience with an out gay student who dropped out of school because of harassment, she designed Project 10, Project 10, Los Angeles a Los Angeles Unified School District program of support services responding to the risks of suicide, alcohol and substance abuse, and HIV-AIDS among LGBT teenagers. Project 10 continues to serve youth in Los Angeles through the following services: a district resource center and program adviser; training workshops for administrators, counselors, teachers, and other staff members; on-site student support groups led by trained facilitators; assistance to school librarians; assistance to schools to comply with nondiscrimination policies; advocacy for LGBT student rights through task forces, parent groups, and community outreach programs; and networking with community agencies, parents, educational organizations, and teacher unions. Project 10 also sponsors an LGBT prom, a scholarship program, and a conference for LGBT youth.

In Massachusetts in 1988, Kevin Jennings, a young, gay high school teacher, began coming out to students and supporting their interests in establishing a student group they would call Gay-Straight Alliance. Gay-Straight Alliance[Gay Straight Alliance] By 1990, he organized a conference of seventy lesbian and gay teachers and founded the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teacher’s Network. Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teacher’s Network School Teacher’s Network, Gay and Lesbian Independent His efforts played a central role in the 1993 adoption of a Safe Schools program in Massachusetts that focused on supporting Gay-Straight Alliance student groups and providing training concerning LGBT youth to all teachers. His organization became the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network Education Network, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight By 2000, GLSEN became the fifth largest LGBT rights organization in the United States, with offices in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., and ninety community-based chapters in more than forty states.


Years after Hetrick and Martin responded to the need for services for LGBT youth, significant problems still exist in school settings and beyond. A 2003 GLSEN school-climate survey found that nearly 40 percent of LGBT youth had experienced physical violence at school, and four out of five LGBT students had been verbally harassed. The National Mental Health Association reported that 22 percent of LGBT respondents had skipped school in the month prior to the survey because they felt unsafe there, and that the average gay or lesbian student hears antigay and antilesbian slurs, Hate speech, in schools Speech, hate, in schools including “homo,” “faggot,” and “sissy,” about twenty-six times per day, or once every fourteen minutes. Less than 20 percent of LGBT youth report that they know of a supportive adult at their school, and LGBT youth are three times more likely than their peers to become high-school dropouts.

In 1991, New York’s Children of the Rainbow Children of the Rainbow curriculum, New York City Education;curriculum debates curriculum was rejected because three pages out of five hundred included information about LGBT families. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the Boy Scouts of America to oust leaders who were gay, and in a backlash response in Vermont, passage of marriage legislation was followed by a cut in funding to the state’s youth services organization, Outright, and an 80 percent decrease in requests for presentations in high schools. In 2004, the positive portrayal of LGBT issues or LGBT people was still prohibited in schools in the states of Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

The 2004 State of the States report by GLSEN issued a failing grade to forty-two states based on an analysis of statewide laws that affect school safety and school environments for all students, and especially LGBT students. Its summary emphasizes that more than 75 percent of K-12 students are not protected by antidiscrimination legislation and that students were 40 percent more likely to skip school out of fear for their safety in contexts where no such protection was provided.

Although the situation for LGBT youth continues to be alarming, the positive changes made since the early 1980’s have been significant. In 1979, statistics on antigay harassment and safety issues were not being compiled, and analyses were nonexistent. However, research on LGBT youth has escalated in the last several years.

Although books such as Young, Gay, and Proud! and Heather Has Two Mommies (written and self-published by Leslea Newman in 1989) were once the only resources of their kind, hundreds of books now exist for and about LGBT youth. Web resources provide even more information with articles, chat rooms, counseling, and networking through sites such as planetout.com, gayteens.org, Gayteens.org[gayteensorg] outproud.org, younggayamerica.com, and youth resource.com. These sites have created an online community that reaches even rural youth.

Fueled with this wealth of information, advocates for LGBT youth have created school-based support programs in other cities (such as in St. Paul, Minnesota, and San Francisco, California) and Safe School programs have been passed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, and New Jersey. Adult advocates have stepped in to support Gay-Straight Alliance groups coming under fire in Utah, Oklahoma, and California. Youth service organizations exist in a multitude of cities across the country. Advocacy efforts have also harnessed the attention of the National Education Association, which supports LGBT curricular inclusion, teacher training, and gay-teen counseling.

By 2002, more than twelve hundred Gay-Straight Alliances had been formed, primarily by high school students, in nearly all fifty states. A host of other organizations have been created and run by teens and young adults. That these and other organizations are being conceived and run by LGBT and straight youth themselves may be the greatest change brought about in these times. No longer just victims, LGBT youth are becoming advocates for themselves and activists for us all. Lesbian and Gay Youth Protection Institute Youth Protection Institute, Lesbian and Gay Schools;for GLBT youth[GLBT youth] Education;GLBT youth

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Baker, Jean M. How Homophobia Hurts Children: Nurturing Diversity at Home, at School, and in the Community. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2001.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Bass, Ellen, and Kate Kaufman. Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies. New York: HarperPerennial, 1996.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Huegel, Kelly. GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens. Minneapolis, Minn.: Free Spirit, 2003.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Lipkin, Arthur. Understanding Homosexuality, Changing Schools. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2000.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Rich, Jason R. Growing Up Gay in America: Informative and Practical Advice for Teen Guys Questioning Their Sexuality and Growing Up Gay. Boston: Franklin Street Books, 2002.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Ryan, Caitlin. Lesbian and Gay Youth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

August, 1966: Queer Youth Fight Police Harassment at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco

March, 1971: Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center Is Founded

1975: First Novel About Coming Out to Parents Is Published

1981: Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Is Founded

May, 1988: Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center Opens

1994: National Association of Lesbian and Gay Community Centers Is Founded

Categories: History