GLSEN this week released state-level data from its benchmark National School Climate Survey, which shows that U.S. secondary schools are slowly improving but remain hostile environments for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) students.
The biennial survey, which began in 1999, found that harassment and discrimination negatively affect LGBTQ students’ educational outcomes and mental health. The research also confirmed that lower levels of harassment and better educational outcomes are related to the presence of school-based supports: LGBTQ-inclusive anti-bullying policies, LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, supportive educators and Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).
For California specifically, the report found:
- The vast majority of LGBTQ students in California regularly heard anti-LGBT remarks. Many also regularly heard school staff make homophobic remarks (17 percent) and negative remarks about someone’s gender expression (34 percent).
- Most LGBTQ students in California had been victimized at school. Of those, more than half never reported the incident to school staff (62 percent). Only 39 percent of those students who reported incidents said it resulted in effective staff intervention.
- Many LGBTQ students in California reported discriminatory policies or practices at their school. Almost half (47 percent) experienced at least one form of discrimination at school during the past year. In California, two in five transgender students (41 percent) were unable to use the school restroom that aligned with their gender identity.
- Many LGBTQ students in California did not have access to in-school resources and supports. Only 16 percent attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy; a third (33 percent) had access to an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum. However, three-quarters (75 percent) could identify six or more supportive school staff, and nearly three-quarters (73 percent) had access to a GSA or similar student club.
“The results of this survey mirror the stories we hear from LGBTQ middle and high school students in California,” said Joel Gemino, Chair of GLSEN Los Angeles. “Schools are still hostile environments for so many of these students, and now more than ever they need our support.”
“While much more needs to be done, California continues to be a leader in protecting and affirming our LGBTQ students,” said Irina Segade, Co-Chair of GLSEN San Diego County. “As we enter a critical time nationally for LGBTQ people, we have every reason to believe that California will be on ‘high alert’ to protect our students by continuing to support our GSAs, provide teacher training and support, ensure all schools have enumerated anti-bullying policies, protect transgender students’ rights, and continue to move toward inclusive curriculum as mandated by SB 48, California’s FAIR Education Act.”
State snapshots for 30 states can be found at www.glsen.org/statesnapshots. To access infographics, an executive summary and the complete GLSEN National School Climate Survey report, visit www.glsen.org/nscs.