Research Shows Alarming Rates of LGBT Student Victimization in Pennsylvania
Thousands of Pennsylvania Students to Participate in Day of Silence on Friday
PENNSYLVANIA, April 16, 2009 - Pennsylvania schools are unsafe places for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) youth, according to a new GLSEN research brief released as Pennsylvania students prepare for the 13th annual National Day of Silence on Friday.
Inside Pennsylvania Schools: The Experiences of LGBT Students, a report based on findings from 242 Pennsylvania students who participated in the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's 2007 National School Climate Survey, shows that Pennsylvania LGBT students face extreme levels of harassment and assault, skip school at alarming rates because of feeling unsafe and perform poorer in school when they are more frequently harassed.
Pennsylvania is one of 43 states that does not explicitly protect students from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
"As Pennsylvania students prepare for the National Day of Silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment, we learn just how pervasive the problem is in Pennsylvania schools," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "Pennsylvania has lagged behind other states in taking the simple and effective steps to begin addressing anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. Pennsylvania and all of its schools need to commit to making sure that schools are safe for all students."
Nearly nine out of 10 Pennsylvania LGBT students experienced verbal harassment based on sexual orientation in the past year, more than half said they had been physically harassed and more than 25% said they had been physically assaulted.
GLSEN's work in Pennsylvania is supported by its GLSEN Pittsburgh chapter.
The Day of Silence is an annual event across the country, during which students take some form of a constitutionally protected vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment. Students from 271 Pennsylvania middle and high schools have registered as participants this year.
98% of Pennsylvania LGBT students regularly (sometimes, often or frequently) heard the word gay used in a negative way in school, such as "that's so gay." 83% regularly heard homophobic remarks, such as "faggot" or "dyke," from other students in school.
88% of LGBT students were verbally harassed, 52% were physically harassed and 27% were physically assaulted in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
63% of LGBT students were verbally harassed, 36% were physically harassed and 18% were physically assaulted because of their gender expression.
54% of LGBT students who were harassed or assaulted in school never reported it to school staff. Only 32% of students who did report incidents said that reporting resulted in effective intervention by school staff.
39% of LGBT students had skipped class at least once in the past month because they felt unsafe, and 44% had missed at least one entire day of school for this reason. Students who were more frequently verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation were twice as likely to miss days of school because they felt unsafe than students who were less frequently harassed (56% vs. 28%, respectively).
Pennsylvania is one of 43 states that does not explicitly protect students from bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Only 19% of LGBT students reported that their school had this type of comprehensive anti-bullying policy.
About the National School Climate Survey
The National School Climate Survey is a biennial report examining the experiences of LGBT middle and high school students in U.S. schools. The report, which was first conducted in 1999 and is the only national survey of its kind, documents the anti-LGBT bias and behaviors that make schools unsafe for many of these youth. The full 2007 sample consisted of 6,209 LGBT secondary school students, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, between the ages of 13 and 21.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, 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.