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LGBT Youth and School Safety

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Denise Wyrick

on 17 June 2011

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Transcript of LGBT Youth and School Safety

LGBT Youth and School Safety Teasing, harassment, and bullying have been a point of concern in schools for decades.

Most schools have anti-bullying policies and some states have laws that protect students from harassment, bullying and discrimination. However, some states do not have anti-bullying laws in place.

Laws that are enforced are not comprehensive enough; they do not include ALL students. Despite the mission of the educational system to provide each and every child a safe and encouraging learning enviroment, the issues facing LGBT students often remain unnoticed or are actively ignored ~(Hall, 2007)

All youth have a right to an education and should feel safe while they are at school. The 2009 National School Climate Survey Executive Summary (NSCSES) reports high statistics of harassment of LGBT youth in schools (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewics, 2009).

88.9% of students heard "gay" used in a negative way.
86.5% reported that they felt distressed to some degree by this language.
84.6% were verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation.
63.7% were verbally harassed at school because of their gender expression.
72.4% heard other homophobic remarks fequently or often at school.
61.1% felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
39.9% felt unsafe at school because of how they expressed their gender.
40.1% were physically harassed because of their sexual orientation.
27.2% were physically harassed because of their gender identity. Adversely, "school personnel may exhibit negative attitudes toward LGBT students or condone harassment and bullying by failing to intervene (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewicz, 2009). Sadly, the percentages of staff or school interventions on issues involving LGBT students are much, much less than the percentage of incidences.

10-17% of students heard teachers of school staff make homophobic remarks in their presence (GLSEN, 2005; Phoenix et al., 2006).

When homophobic remarks were made by students in the presence of teachers or staff, students reported that school personnel intervened rarely or never 47% of the time. (Phoenix et al., 2006)

26% of school counselors strongly agreed that teachers display significant prejudice toward LGBT students (Price and Telljohann, 1941). An example of this would be a converstion I recently had with a 63 year old gay man. Growing up in the 50's and 60's, this charismatic, out-going positive person was not so sure he waned to live to see his "senior" years. As a young boy on the verge of puberty, he realized that he was attracted to boys, not girls. Five decades ago, the idea of being LGBT was considered a disgrace. To survive his childhood, this now confident man, had to keep his sexual orientation a secret at school as well as home. At school, he was teased and when the harassment took place, sometimes a teacher would hear and sometimes they wouldn't. Even if there was a teacher or staff member present, he said they would ignore the comment and not do anything to discipline the oter student or prevent it from happening again. At home, he did not dare tell his father for fear of "being thrown through the front door, with it closed." Both of the Amy's as well as Dana, at our youth panel, spoke of physcical abuse from their parents due to their sexual orientation. In chapter 16 on page 148, Kumashiro, shares a narrative by a mixed-heritaged LGBT woman named Loni. As she struggles with her race, heritage, and sexual orientation, she also struggles with the fact that her teachers were not what she thought they were. Loni shares, "I was really angry once the race thing hit me. I was so angry. I had all these teachers I adored. I thought they were so smart. Especially one Philosophy professor......I thought he knew everything. He offered these winter term seminars: 'The Meaning of Life'. I was so consumed by rage! How could he not have taught about race?!" Risks for LGBT Youth Missing class or entire days of school

Lower academic achievement

Poorer psychological well-being

Suicide 29% of LGBT students missed class; 30.0% missed an entire day.(Meyer, 2009)

"LGBT students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression had a grade point averages almost half a grade lower than for students who were less often harassed (Kosciw,Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewica, 2009).

"Many students feel ostracized and isolated in schools and this has long-term negative impact on their physical and emotional well-being" (Meyer, 2009).

"Studies have found that LGBT youth are two to seven times more likely to have attempted suicide compared to their heterosexual peers (Hall, 2007). "Schools play a key role in teaching and reinforcing the dominant values of culture and this holds especially true in areas of gender and sexuality" (Meyer, 2009) Solutions to help LGBT Youth in Schools Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) A GSA is an extracurricular club for LGBT students and their allies. "GSAs can provide safe, affirming spaces and critical support for LGBT students and also contribute to creating a more welcoming school environment" (Kosciw, Greytak,Diaz, & Bartkiewicz, 2009) Implementing an Inclusive Curriculum It is important to educate teachers on how to be supportive of LGBT students.It is also important for teachers to stop LGBT students from being harassed or bullied.Teachers need to be educated to recognize negative language, physical or verbal harassment, and how to properly intervene and stop the harassment or bullying. "Implementing curriculum that includes positive representations of LGBT people, history and events helps promote respect for all and can improve an individual LGBT student's school experience and increase their sense of school connectedness" (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz & Bartkiewicz, 2009). Educate Teachers Policies and Laws All schools should adopt and enforce a comprehensive bullying/harassment policy and a law should be implemented to revent such discrimination. "Policies and laws that explicitly address bias-based bullying and charassment can reduce the prevalence of bias behaviors and encourage staff intervention. Comprehensive policies and laws that specifically enumerate personal characteristics, such as sexual orientation and gender identiy/expression among others, are the most effective at combating anti-LGBT bullying and harassment" (Kosciw, Greytak, Diaz, & Bartkiewicz, 2009). Closing Thoughts

Our youth deserve better. Our nation, states, schools, teachers, staff, and students themselves need to rally together to make schools safer for LGBT youth. LGBT youth should not have to worry about harassment or bullying while they are receiving the education they are entitled to. "Schools have a responsibility to protect all students by intervening in and preventing all forms of harassment, bullying, and discrimination including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Schools should also take appropriate action when these incidents occur" (Hall, 2007) Personal Reflections

I didn't know as much about the LGBT community as I thought I did. Vocabulary, terminology, definitions, laws, rules, and policies are all issues that I am much more informed about.

I really enjoyed ALL of our guest speakers and panels. The information I received from the guest speakers and panels was much more deeper, personal, emotional and informative......more than I would have received from just reading alone.

My Immersion through Service experience at Affirmations was very insightful. I was able to see first-hand the dedication, passion and hard work it takes to advocate for the LGBT community.

I not only enjoyed, but gained an abundance of information from the readings we had. My favorite readings were from Queering Straight Teachers. I felt the writing was easier to read and understand than the book Troubling Inersections of Race and Sexuality. Although this book was informative too, I felt it was at times too technical and hard to read.

Overall, this class was able to teach me how to be an advocate and ally to the LGBT community and especially the LGBT youth that I will have in class. I will definitely promote a safe classroom environment for ALL students, encourage respect and equality for all students, and confidently take a stand and intervene on the behalf of bullyied LGBT students if need be. Resources

Affirmations: http://www.goaffirmations.org
Ruth Ellis Center: http://ruthelliscenter.com/
Equality Michigan: http://equalitymi.org
OU Gender and Sexuality Center: http:..www.oakland.edu/gsc/
Rethinking Schols: http://www.rethinkingschools.org/
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US (SEICUS): http://www.siecus.org/
Teaching Tolerance: http//www.splcenter.org/center/tt/teach.jsp
Transgender Law adn Policy Institute: http://www.transgenderlaw.org

Hall, W. (2007) Harassment, bullying, and discrimination of LGBT students: Legalissues for North Carolina schools. Retrieved from www.csa.com.

Kosciw, J.G., Greytak, E>A., Diaz, E.M., & Bartkiewicz, M.J. (2010) The 2009 national school climate survey: The experiences of LGBT youth in our nation's schools. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLESEN)

Meyer, E.J. (2009) Gender, Bullying, and harassment:Strategies to end sexism and homophobia in schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

Phoenix, T.L., Hall, W. J., Weiss, M.M., Kemp, J.M., Wells R.E., & Chen,A.W. (2006) Homophobic language and verbal harassment in high schools. Chapel Hill, NC: Safe Schools NC.

Price, J.Hl, and Telljohann, S.K. (19941) School counselors' perceptions of adolescent homosexuals. Journal of School Health, 61, 433-438
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