We may think that, in today’s society, we have reached a point where everyone has truly embraced people of all genders and sexual identities, making the topic very easy to discuss and not an issue. Think again.
The truth is, for many LGBTQ+ students, discrimination and harassment is something that they have to deal with on a daily basis, especially at school.
The 2015 National School Climate study, founded by GLSEN, is an organization focused on ensuring safety in schools for LGBTQ+ students. This organization found that over 85 percent of these students experienced verbal harassment, whereas 66 percent have been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
As a result, kids feel isolated and unwelcome, with students intentionally missing school and avoiding going into restrooms and lockers rooms.
Students who experience more violence are also more likely to have lower GPAs and to report feeling depressed. Not only is it just other students who create this hostile climate for their LGBTQ+ peers, but over half of the 10,000+ students surveyed reported hearing biased remarks from school staff. Including this, it is reported that school staff often fail to intervene when they hear these similar remarks made by other students at school.
There is some good news though.
Overall, the number of students who report being harassed or discriminated against is declining. The climate is improving across the board, but for many students, it’s not happening fast enough.
How can teachers take part in making their schools a safer community? They set the tone for how our students treat each other. No, they can’t control everything, but schools can do a lot to influence the climate in our schools and make sure the classrooms are places where all students feel welcome.