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Florida schools remain hostile for many LGBTQ secondary students, GLSEN report finds

GLSEN released state-level data from its benchmark National School Climate Survey, which shows that U.S. secondary schools are slowly improving but remain hostile environments for many LGBTQ students.

The biennial survey, which began in 1999, found that harassment and discrimination negatively affect LGBTQ students’ educational outcomes and mental health. The research also confirmed that lower levels of harassment and better educational outcomes are related to the presence of school-based supports: LGBTQ-inclusive anti-bullying policies, LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, supportive educators and Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).

For Florida specifically, the report found:

  • The vast majority of LGBTQ students in Florida regularly heard anti-LGBT remarks. Many also regularly heard school staff make homophobic remarks (23 percent) and negative remarks about someone’s gender expression (35 percent).
  • Most LGBTQ students in Florida had been victimized at school. Of those, most never reported the incident to school staff (57 percent). Only 30 percent of those students who reported incidents said it resulted in effective staff intervention.
  • Many LGBTQ students in Florida reported discriminatory policies or practices at their school. Nearly 2 in 3 (63 percent) experienced at least one form of discrimination at school during the past year. In Florida, over six in 10 transgender students (62 percent) were unable to use the school restroom that aligned with their gender identity.
  • Many LGBTQ students in Florida did not have access to in-school resources and supports. Only 7 percent attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy; only a fifth (20 percent) had access to an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum; 60 percent could identify six or more supportive school staff; and half had access to a GSA or similar student club.

“The results of this survey mirror the stories we hear from LGBTQ middle and high school students in Florida,” said Jana Csenger, Co-Chair of GLSEN Collier County. “Schools are still hostile environments for so many of these students, and now more than ever they need our support.”

“We have so much more work to do, but we have seen what works in Florida to improve school climates for LGBTQ students: supportive educators, anti-bullying policies that specifically protect LGBTQ students, supportive student clubs and school curriculum that positively depicts LGBTQ topics,” said Ginger Malcolm, Chair of GLSEN Orlando.

“LGBTQ students, like all students, deserve safe and inclusive learning environments, and the high levels of harassment and discrimination they face in Florida schools hinder their ability to succeed,” said Gregg Coldiron, Chair of GLSEN Tampa Bay.

GLSEN champions safe and affirming schools for all students. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach tens of thousands of K-12 schools across the United States, and our network of chapters brings GLSEN’s expertise to their local communities. GLSEN’s progress and impact have won support for our work at all levels of education in the United States and sparked an international movement to ensure equality for LGBTQ students and respect for all in schools. For more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, public education, research and educator training programs, please visit glsen.org.

via press release