Middle and high school years are some of the most impressionable, and also most traumatic, times for many LGBT students. According to a 2005 Harris Interactive online poll titled "From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, A Survey of Students and Teachers," LGBT students are three times as likely as non-LGBT students to say that they do not feel safe at school. 65% (or two-thirds) of the 3,400 students surveyed reported that they have been verbally or physically harassed or assaulted during that past school year. The most common reason for harassment was a student’s appearance or body size. The next most common was perceived sexual orientation.
Kevin Jennings, Founder and Executive Director of GLSEN (or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) warns, "Students who experience harassment are more likely to miss classes which can impact a student’s ability to learn."
These harsh realities are even more disturbing when coupled with the 33% of gay youth that attempt suicide each year partly due to the harassment they experience coming out.
We all want safe environments in which our kids can learn. Here are steps teachers and school administrators can take to help ease the climate of anti-gay harassment and verbal assaults in the classroom.