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GLSEN Reports on Elementary School LGBT Climate

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A new report conducted by the nation’s leading LGBT youth advocacy group has found that anti-gay bullying and harassment is fairly common during the early years of elementary school.The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network–or GLSEN–released its survey titled ‘Playgrounds and Prejudice’ on Wednesday. It’s based on interviews conducted in late 2010 among a thousand students in grades 3 through 6 and about a thousand K-through-6th teachers.

GLSEN’s Executive Director Eliza Byard says the research fills in a “critical missing piece of the picture” about the prevalence of anti-gay discrimination throughout a child’s educational career.

BYARD: We decided that we really needed to go in and figure out what exactly was happening and then use that research to design a resource to equip teachers to deal with it.

Among the findings are that nearly half of all students and teachers regularly hear the word ‘gay’ used negatively, like in the phrase “That’s so gay.” Also, about a quarter of all respondents say they hear students utter the words “fag” or “lesbo.” GLSEN notes that about 20 percent of student participants regularly hear their peers getting harassed for seeming gay or gender nonconformity.

About 1 in 10 students say they don’t always conform to traditional gender roles, which makes them more likely to feel unsafe at school and fall victim to bullying.

Meanwhile, less than 20 percent of students said they know anything about LGBT families, while less than 40 percent of teachers admit touching on the subject.

In fact, less than HALF of the adult respondents say they’re comfortable even talking about LGBT people in the classroom, though 80 percent say they’re fine addressing anti-gay discrimination.

In all, about a THIRD of all teachers say they’re personally engaged in creating a safe school environment for their students.

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One Response

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  1. Safe schools are so important

    Tom Spirito

    March 15, 2012 at 6:41 PM


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