February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Hostile School Environments the Norm for LGBTQ Youth, Says GLSEN Report


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For LGBTQ youth, school is a potentially dangerous environment, according to a report released by the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) on October 22, “The 2013 National School Climate Survey.” The report confirmed that the hostile educational climates that LGBTQ youth regularly face have adverse academic and social effects.

According to the report, 74 percent of teens were harassed due to their sexual orientation and another 55 percent were bullied due to gender expression. GLSEN found that this directly affected school performance, as 30 percent reported missing at least one day of school because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable due to bullying. Grade point averages for LGBTQ students who experience bullying and harassment is between nine and 15 points lower compared with those of other students.

The situation has improved somewhat in recent years, according to the survey, with 60 percent of LGBTQ students reporting that they hear homophobic remarks, down from more than 80 percent in 2001. The study also found that those teens in schools with LGBTQ-inclusive curriculums and students at schools with supportive staff members were less likely to feel unsafe.

However, there’s clearly still work to be done: only 19 percent of students surveyed are in schools with these curricula. Administrations themselves often enforce discriminatory policies. Twenty-eight percent of students reported that they were disciplined for public displays of affection for which non-LGBTQ students received no punishment.

Mahnaz Dar About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar (mdar@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.

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  1. GLSEN has a bias inherent with its aims. Does their report cite research in the field other than their own?