This post originally appeared on my blog on October 2, 2013. The 2013 survey results are supposed to come out at some point this fall. Reposting this entry because it’s so important to know what’s really going on in schools.
National School Climate Survey results about LGBTQ students’ experiences in high school
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, released itsNational School Climate Survey, which documents the experiences of LGBT students from across the country. If these numbers shock you, you clearly haven’t spent much time talking to gay students or hanging out in a high school. It’s still ugly out there.
Findings of the 2011 National School Climate Survey include:
Biased Remarks at School
• 84.9% of students heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) frequently or often at school, and 91.4% reported that they felt distressed because of this language.
• 71.3% heard other homophobic remarks (e.g., “dyke” or “faggot”) frequently or often.
• 61.4% heard negative remarks about gender expression (not acting “masculine enough” or “feminine enough”) frequently or often.
• 56.9% of students reported hearing homophobic remarks from their teachers or other school staff, and 56.9% of students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from teachers or other school staff.
Safety and Victimization at School
• 63.5% felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation, and 43.9% because of their gender expression.
• 81.9% were verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and 63.9% because of their gender expression.
• 38.3% were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and 27.1% because of their gender expression.
• 18.3% were physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, injured with a weapon) in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and 12.4% because of their gender expression.
• 55.2% of LGBT students experienced electronic harassment in the past year (via text messages or postings on Facebook), often known as cyberbullying.
The high incidence of harassment and assault is exacerbated by school staff who rarely, if ever, intervene on behalf of LGBT students.
• 60.4% of students who were harassed or assaulted in school did not report the incident to school staff, most often believing little to no action would be taken or the situation could become worse if reported.
• 36.7% of the students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response.
The report goes on to discuss:
*absenteeism (“Many LGBT students avoid classes or miss entire days of school rather than face a hostile school climate. An unsafe school environment denies these students their right to an education.”)
*academic achievement (“School safety affects student success. Experiencing victimization in school hinders LGBT students’ academic success and educational aspirations.”)
*psychological well-being (“Experiences of harassment and assault in school are related to poorer psychological well-being for LGBT students.”).
The report also looks at solutions, including GSA groups, inclusive curriculum, supportive educations, bullying policies, and more.
The report is long (160 pages), but filled with statistics, charts, and graphs that drive home the point that LGBTQ students face a lot of opposition at school and frequently don’t feel safe or supported. Being knowledgeable of their potential struggles and understanding where they (and you!) can go to find useful resources (books, websites, helplines, etc) is a major step in the right direction.
The Trevor Project—A 24-hour toll free confidential hotline for gay and questioning youth. 844-4-U-TREVOR
The It Gets Better Project—Suicide prevention video project and website to give hope to LGBTQ teens that high school and its bullies will not last forever, that it DOES get better.
GLSEN—Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network
HRC—Human Rights Campaign