LGBT children of color often fall through the cracks of the U.S. educational system. For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pupils, obstacles to completing secondary school and gaining entry to college mount in unique ways: These children simultaneously confront multiple barriers to effective learning, stemming from race, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and socio-economic status. A report released last week by the Human Rights Campaign and the Center for American Progress, A Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color, targets the larger question of why job market inequities exist for LGBT people. But underneath its employment story lies a subplot about a group of children not getting what they need from the adults and institutions around them.
Students of color make up three quarters of the student population at the lowest-performing high schools in the United States. They are six times more likely than white students to attend such a school. Because the U.S. school financing system relies heavily on local property taxes, the great disparities in educational resources across different communities hit poor and low-income pupils hard. Specifically, A Broken Bargain notes, at under-resourced schools the teachers and staff are overstretched, less experienced, and paid less than their counterparts in schools with larger white student populations. The schools are less likely to offer advanced courses to prepare students for college, such as calculus: only 29 percent of high-minority enrollment high schools did, versus 55 percent of low-minority enrollment schools. Other crucial educational supports are lacking, too, such as assistance for students with learning disabilities or difficulty learning a foreign language or mastery of English classes (for English language learners as well as college-hopeful native English-speaking students).