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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Disabled LGBTQI+ Youth and SSI

Reprinted from:

Roughly 2 million LGBTQI+ youth attend public and private high schools across the United States. About 15% of students today receive special education services – and 1/3 of those students have learning disabilities. Students who are both LGBTQI+ and have a disability often lack the resources necessary to perform well at school.

Tools to Succeed

Schools have different tools to create inclusive environments for LGBTQI+ students with disabilities and help them thrive and succeed. One example is the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for students in public school, and the Instructional/Individual Service Plan (ISP) for those in private school.

Families, teachers, school psychologists, youth specialists, and school administrators work together to develop plans that are tailored to a given student. This includes outlining a legally binding agreement over any specialized services, accommodations, and curriculum modifications the student will receive.

As IEPs and ISPs are unique to each student, there are strategies that can be employed to ensure that they are inclusive. For example, as outlined in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Welcoming Schools resource guide on Advocating for LGBTQ Students with Disabilities, schools can accommodate a transgender student by using their chosen name and pronoun, and train members of their IEP team on LGBTQI+ cultural competency.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Social Security can help eligible students through the SSI program. SSI provides monthly payments to children who:

• Are under age 18 and have physical or mental condition(s) that seriously limits their daily activities for a period of 12 months or more or is expected to result in death.

• Live in a household with limited income and resources.

When you apply for SSI payments for your child based on a disability, Social Security will ask you for detailed information about:

• The child’s medical condition.

• How the child’s medical condition affects their ability to perform daily activities.

You’ll need to give permission to the doctors, teachers, therapists, and other professionals who have information about your child’s condition to share information to Social Security. Their Guide for School Professionals outlines how a child’s IEP and other evidence helps Social Security make disability determinations.

By providing the necessary support, we can help LGBTQI+ students with disabilities overcome the various challenges they face compared to their peers.

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