Bad, But In Some Ways Better: GLSEN School Climate Survey Shows Mixed Results

Jim Burroway

September 5th, 2012

Moments ago, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) released its 2011 National School Climate Survey, which includes responses from 8,584 students from all fifty states and the District of Columbia. GLSEN has been conducting the survey now for over a decade, and this latest survey has found, for the first time, decreased levels of biased anti-LGBT language and decreased levels of student victimization based on sexual orientation. The survey also found increased levels of student access to LGBT-related school resources and support.

But a quick look at the survey when compared to 2009 shows that the situation is a classic glass-half-full/half-empty situation. Despite the improvements, LGBT students continue to experience hostile climates in the schools. According to the 2011 survey, 81.9% of LGBT students said they were verbally harassed, 38.3% were physically harassed and 18.3% were physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation. (In 2009, those same figures were 84.6%, 40.1% and 18.8% respectively.)

In addition, 63.9% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.1% were physically harassed and 12.4% were physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression. Those figures are virtually unchanged from 2009. The 2011 survey also found that 63.5% reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 43.9% felt unsafe because of their gender expression. Those numbers are actually higher from 2009. About a third reported skipping class and a third reported skipping an entire day because of safety concerns.

The survey found that having a Gay-Straight Alliance, an LGBT-inclusive curriculum and anti-bullying policies which specifically addressed sexual orientation correlated with an improved school environment. The presence of teachers and other school personnel who were visibly supportive of LGBT students also resulted in higher grade point averages and lower absenteeism among LGBT students. Unfortunately, only slightly more than half could identify six or more supportive teachers, less than half attended schools with GSAs, and only about 7.4% attended a school with an anti-bullying policy which specifically addressed sexual orientation and/or gender expression.

AlexND

September 5th, 2012

This very report proves the anti-bully efforts and GSA’s work. Which of course means some right-wing hack will oppose this report any moment now . . . 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . .7

Blake

September 5th, 2012

And the Reuters article I just read on the same subject began: “Harassment of homosexual students is declining at U.S. schools” (emphasis added)

Sigh. We still have such a long way to go.

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