Six out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens say they feel unsafe at school. Eighty-two percent of that same group say they've been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation, while 71 percent say they've heard homophobic remarks like "dyke" or "faggot" used with some frequency at school.
These are just three of the more disturbing statistics revealed by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) 2011 National School Climate Survey. According to GLSEN researchers, the annual poll -- which comprised 8,584 student respondents from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia -- aims to "consistently examine the experiences of LGBT students in America’s schools."
However, it wasn't all gloom and doom. As GLSEN officials are quick to point out, the 2011 survey found a continued overall decline in anti-LGBT language, as in previous years. This year, they add, the survey shows a significant decrease in victimization based on sexual orientation for the very first time.
While acknowledging that the 2011 survey "marks a possible turning point in the school experiences of LGBT youth,” Dr. Joseph Kosciw, GLSEN’s Senior Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives, added, “An alarming number of LGBT youth still face barriers that inhibit their ability to receive an education. And although we have seen an increase in school supports that can improve school climate for these youth, many of these young people reported being unable to access these supports in their schools.”
The GLSEN survey comes on the heels of a new University of Michigan study, which found that the phrase "that's so gay" could have deep consequences for LGBT youth. The resulting data found that LGBT students who heard the phrase frequently were more likely to feel isolated and experience headaches, poor appetite or eating problems than those who didn't.
GLSEN officials also point out that the Democratic National Convention Platformincluded "explicit language affirming the need for anti-LGBT bullying prevention efforts," while the Obama administration "hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention."
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