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Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth

LGBTQ+ students are more likely to face bullying and harassment, leading to poor grades, higher dropout rates, and homelessness. Safe and affirming schools are a core element of student success.
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A 2015 survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that “LGBTQ+ students experience pervasive harassment and discrimination, but school-based supports can make a difference.” 

Educators are on the leading edge of campaigns, initiatives and legislative efforts to create safe and affirming schools and support LGBTQ+ student rights.

Helping to Shape LGBTQ+ inclusive Curriculum and Textbooks

AEA members mobilized in support of the repeal of a 28-year-old law that prohibited discussing homosexuality during HIV/AIDS instruction in public schools.

“I found sex-education to be heterosexual sex education, and even then, it was vague,” educator Gabriella Siciliano told of her experience in Arizona public schools. Sciliano is a member of the local LGBTQ+ community and a teacher at Verrado High School. “It was not a comfortable, or open discussion, as I believe it should be. By under-educating our students, we are setting them up for failure, which is simply a disservice.”

The Arizona state Senate passed a bill repealing the law in May 2019. Read more.

Awards & Grants

The AEA Foundation for Teaching & Learning provides grants and awards to recognize the work educators are doing to support our LGBTQ students. Learn more.

Human & Civil Rights Award

The annual Human and Civil Rights Award recognizes Arizona leaders who promote diversity; programs that lead to improved human relations; efforts leading to improved school district support of human and civil rights; or successful implementation of human and civil rights program. The recipient receives a $1,000 cash award. 

Gay-Straight Alliance Encouragement Grant

The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Encouragement Grant offers opportunities for Arizona Gay-Straight Alliances to improve the school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Individual grants will be awarded for amounts between $50 and $250. 


Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

With more than 20,000 members, the Arizona Education Association (AEA) is the labor union for public school employees in Arizona. AEA members are teachers, community college professors, counselors, speech pathologists, bus drivers, secretaries, retired educators and student teachers and they belong to more than 150 local affiliates across Arizona.