The most comprehensive report ever on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in the US has found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.2%) experienced harassment at school in the past year
The survey of 6,209 middle and high school students also found that three-fifths (60.8%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and about a third (32.7%) skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.
The 2007 National School Climate Survey was released by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
“The 2007 National School Climate Survey reveals that, on a whole, the situation is still dire for many LGBT youth when it comes to school safety,” GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings said.
“It’s hard to believe that anyone who reads this report could continue to turn the other way as our nation’s LGBT students are bullied and harassed at alarming rates. The good news is there’s hope. The 2007 National School Climate Survey also shows that when schools and educators take action, they can make a drastic difference.”
The survey also found that 86.2% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1% reported being physically harassed and 22.1% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
Almost seventy four percent of students said that they heard derogatory remarks such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently or often at school.
The reported grade point average of students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was almost half a grade lower than for students who were less often harassed.
The study found that students in schools which offered Gay-Straight Alliance groups, had supportive staff or had policies that specifically include protection for LGBT students had markedly fewer negative experiences. They tended to experience less harassment and showed greater academic achievement.
Despite the positive benefits of these interventions, only about a third of students (36.3%) reported having a Gay-Straight Alliance at school. The same number of students (36.3%) could identify six or more supportive educators and only a fifth (18.7%) attended a school that had a comprehensive safe school policy.
GLSEN’s biennial National School Climate Survey is the only national survey in the US to document the experiences of students who identify as LGBT in America’s secondary schools.