This article presents data from a six-month participatory action research project. Researchers included one doctoral student and eight high-school students in New York City, all of whom identified as non-heterosexual and/or gender non-conforming. The research analyzed language and behavior in school, as well as state anti-bullying and sex education policies, and found their application to be mixed, with high-school students not receiving even HIV/AIDS lessons in some cases, even though they are mandated by the state. Young people speaking in the research presented in this article ask for a consideration of safety that includes their need for accurate and comprehensive information about sex, sexuality and gender - not just for themselves but also for their peers, teachers and school authorities. They request that consideration of the health and safety of LGBTQ youth needs to include more than just anti-bullying protections and HIV/AIDS materials, and that biological arguments about sexuality and gender roles should be called into question by curricular materials in favor of a fuller history of sexual and gendered identities. These changes, they suggest, may improve their level of belonging in their schools - a key factor in their physical and mental health and safety during adolescence.
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