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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 22, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 12
GLSEN's new study finds many WA schools unsafe for LGBT students
Section One
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GLSEN's new study finds many WA schools unsafe for LGBT students

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Washington state middle and high schools are hostile places for many LGBT students, according to School Climate in Washington, a research snapshot of the experiences of LGBT students in Washington schools released this week by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

The findings, based on the responses of Washington students who participated in GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey, show that LGBT students in Washington schools face high levels of harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender expression and regularly hear anti-Gay slurs from students and staff.

GLSEN's biennial National School Climate Survey, first conducted in 1999, remains the only study to consistently document the school experiences of LGBT students nationwide.

The 2011 survey includes responses from 8,584 students between the ages of 13 and 20. Students were from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and from 3,224 unique school districts. Data collection was conducted through national and community-based organizations and targeted online advertising on the social networking site Facebook. A total of 282 respondents were attending schools in Washington, and the reported results for Washington have a margin of error of plus or minus 6%.

RESOURCES LACKING
The research snapshot also shows that while most students in Washington could identify at least one supportive educator, very few had access to any LGBT-inclusive resources or curriculum at school.

More than a decade of findings from the GLSEN's National School Climate Survey have shown consistently that school-based supports - such as anti-bullying/harassment policies, supportive staff, LGBT-inclusive curricular resources, and Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs (GSAs) - can positively affect LGBT students' school experiences.

'While we have seen some progress nationally in the 14 years since we started our National School Climate Survey, much work remains to ensure that all Washington schools are safe and affirming environments for LGBT students,' said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN's executive director. 'We look forward to working with our Washington chapter partners to ensure that every LGBT student has equal access to a quality education.'

Research highlights from School Climate in Washington include:

o 9 in 10 LGBT students (90%) regularly heard homophobic remarks (e.g., 'fag' or 'dyke');

o 31% of LGBT students were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) because of their sexual orientation;

o 14% of LGBT students were physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon) because of their sexual orientation;

o Only 18% were taught positive representations of LGBT people, history, and events; and

o Only 14% attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy.

GLSEN has one chapter in Washington, located in Seattle. GLSEN Washington State is one of 37 accredited local GLSEN chapters around the country. GLSEN chapters, with the support and guidance of the national office, work to bring GLSEN's programs, resources, and support to their specific communities on a local level. Learn more about GLSEN's Washington chapter at www.glsenwa.org.

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