Tuesday, March 1, 2011

from http://campusprogress.org - Five Ways We Can End Discrimination and Harassment Against Gay and Transgender Youth in Schools

The 2009 National School Climate Survey by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, a national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students, provides some discouraging data when it comes to bullying targeted at gay and transgender youth. Of the gay and transgender middle and high school students surveyed, 9 out of 10 have experienced harassment at school in the past year. Nearly a third of these have skipped at least one day of school due to concerns about their safety in the previous month. An alarming 61 percent of students have felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, while 39 percent have felt unsafe because of their gender expression.

Data from the Williams Institute, a legal and policy think tank at UCLA School of Law, presents even more discouraging news about bullying that targets gay and transgender youth. An overwhelming 85 percent of gay and transgender students report being harassed because of their sexual or gender identity, with 20 percent reporting they were physically attacked. More importantly, gay students are three to four times more likely than their straight counterparts to commit suicide. Exacerbating the hostile climate students face, the people who are supposed to protect them from this behavior—the administrators and teachers—often do nothing in response to the harassment or physical attacks.

This issue brief examines what, if anything, state and local school boards, state legislatures, and the federal government are doing about this insidious problem. We then propose five ways that the U.S. Congress could act to end this persistent form of discrimination in the classrooms and hallways of our nation’s schools...

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