The global fight against the victimization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth has led to a prolific backlash. The LGBTQ+ “safe schools” movement has gotten violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity recognized as a problem by the United Nations (UN). However, this victory has resulted in the greater availability of anti-LGBTQ+ tropes for use as political fodder by bad-faith actors seeking to undermine progress toward the rights of LGBTQ+ youth, in particular, and democratic values, more generally. We are specifically concerned in this chapter with how opportunistic anti-LGBTQ+ state regimes clash with the UN vision for LGBTQ+-inclusive sustainable development, with resulting harm to LGBTQ+ youth. In this first section, we describe the safe schools movement, explain its connection to the UN’s commitment to education justice, and point to how countermovements around the globe endeavor to quash the hard-won achievements of LGBTQ+ rights movements by targeting sexual and gender minority youth. Following the lead of sexual and gender minority youth who have begun to demand safety and dignity around the world, the global safe schools movement is an informal network of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) active on nearly every continent. It is concerned with the prevalence and effects of bias-based violence and discrimination against primary and secondary school students who do not conform to socially dominant or expected sexuality and gender norms. The transnational movement is united by two shared goals: to document LGBTQ+ youth experiences through research; and to promote affirming school climates through advocacy.
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