Illinois ( Nov. 13, 2014 ) — GLSEN ( the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network ) today released state-level data from its biennial National School Climate Survey report that show that schools remain unsafe for the majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) students.
The latest edition of GLSEN's National School Climate Survey, which first began in 1999 and remains one of the few studies to examine the middle and high school experiences of LGBT youth nationally, includes four major findings: schools nationwide are hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBT students; a hostile school climate affects students' academic success and mental health; students with LGBT-related resources and supports report better school experiences and academic success; and school climate for LGBT students has improved somewhat over the years, but remains quite hostile for many.
"The large number of students who reported hearing anti-LGBT language and who continue to experience verbal and physical harassment in Illinois schools is unacceptable," said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN's Executive Director. "GLSEN calls on everyone in Illinois to join us in ensuring students and educators are given the resources and supports to create safe and affirming school environments. All members of the school community need to feel empowered to intervene when others are undermining these efforts."
Specifically in Illinois, the survey found:
More than nine in 10 LGBT students heard "gay" used in a negative way ( e.g., "that's so gay" ), and more than eight in 10 heard other homophobic remarks at school regularly.
The majority experienced verbal harassment: seven in 10 based on their sexual orientation and more than five in 10 based on the way they expressed their gender.
Many also experienced physical harassment and physical assault. For example, three in 10 were physically harassed based on their sexual orientation, and one in 10 were physically assaulted based on the way they expressed their gender.
Only 22 percent were taught positive representations of LGBT people, history and events, and nearly half could not access information about LGBT communities on school Internet.
"Our research tells us that policymakers and education leaders in Illinois must do more to create safer and more affirming schools for LGBT students," said Dr. Joseph G. Kosciw, GLSEN's Chief Research & Strategy Officer. "Training and empowering educators to create supportive environments, supporting Gay-Straight Alliances and increasing access to accurate and positive information about LGBT people, history and events and inclusive policies all can improve school climate for all students in Illinois."
State snapshots for 29 states can be found at www.glsen.org/statesnapshots. To access a summary video, infographic and both the executive summary and complete GLSEN National School Climate Survey report, visit www.glsen.org/nscs .
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org .