The power of subtle signs.

       There are also many ways of letting sexual minority students know that professional school counselors, teachers, administrators, and other school workers, are supportive of their struggle.  If, because of your school district, you are unable to be as overtly supportive as you would like to be, there remain a number of other ways in which you can still relay to sexual minority students a message of your support. 

       Here are a few of the more obvious ones:

       1) have a "safe zone" sticker at the entrance to your office or classroom (available from the Bridges Project of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition or at;

       2) have available in your school guidance office and library literature on sexual minority youth concerns (see for a bibliography);

       3) post online resources for sexual minority students such as:  International Lesbian and Gay Youth Association (; Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (www.pflag); Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educators Network (; Gay and Lesbian Teen Pen Pals (; National Resources for GLBT Youth (; Oasis (teen magazine) (; Outright (; Out Proud, National Coaltion for GLBT Youth (; The Cool Page for Queer Teens (; and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (

       4) offer free family counseling services on campus to deal with the issues of same-sex orientation;

       5) use gay and lesbian positive examples in your teaching or counseling;

       6) use inclusive, stigma-free language in the classroom and in all communication, such as "partners" instead of "husbands and wives";

       7) post pictures of famous sexual minority people (see list at

       By demonstrating an accepting attitude, school workers can send a strong message to students and create a tolerant environment within the entire school.  The issues of tolerance, acceptance, and value can all be explored under the umbrella of diversity.

Pope, M., Bunch, L. K., Szymanski, D. S., & Rankins, M. (2004). Counseling sexual minority students in the schools. In B. T. Erford (Ed.), Professional school counseling: A handbook of theories, programs & practices (pp. 699-718). Austin, TX: CAPS Press.