A majority of LGBT students face hostile school environments, which can negatively impact their academic success and mental health, according to a new "National School Climate Survey" from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
The survey released Wednesday found that 74 percent of LGBT students were harassed due to their their sexual orientation in the last academic year. Fifty-five percent of students surveyed said they were harassed last year because of their gender expression. In the past month, some 30 percent of students surveyed said they missed at least one day of school "as a result of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable," according to the report.
Other highlights from the report include:
A hostile school climate affects students' academic success and mental health. LGBT students who experience victimization and discrimination at school have worse educational outcomes and poorer psychological well-being. Grade point averages for these students were between nine and 15 percent lower than for others.
Students with LGBT-related resources and supports report better school experiences and academic success. LGBT students in schools with an LGBT-inclusive curriculum were less likely to feel unsafe because of their sexual orientation (35 percent vs. 60 percent). Unfortunately, only 19 percent of LGBT students were taught positive representations about LGBT people, history or events.
School climate for LGBT students has improved somewhat over the years, yet remains quite hostile for many. Increases in the availability of many LGBT-related school resources, due in part to efforts by GLSEN and other safe school advocates, may be having a positive effect on the school environment. LGBT students reported a lower incidence of homophobic remarks than ever before - from over 80 percent hearing these remarks regularly in 2001 to about 60 percent now.
"Progress is being made in our nation's schools," Eliza Byard, GLSEN's executive director, said in a statement. "But when more than half of LGBT youth continue to report unsafe or even dangerous school climates, we all have a responsibility to act."