A national organization found that LGBT students are not safe in most schools in the state of Florida and they did not have access to necessary resources.
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network conducted the study across the country in 2013 and presented its findings from 29 states. Of the nearly 8,000 LGBT students surveyed (most in public schools), 410 were attending Florida schools.
According to the study, more than 90 percent of students heard the word “gay” used in a negative way, more than 80 percent heard other students make negative comments about LGBT people, and more than 60 percent heard others say negative things about transgender people. These numbers were higher than the national average.
Numbers were lower for students who experienced harassment toward them directly. About 30 percent said they were physically harassed because of being gay and 10 percent said they had been physically assaulted. Students were more likely, however, to experience online bullying, being left out of activities, having items stolen, or had mean things spread around school about them.
Not only were the numbers regarding their fellow students disturbing, but also school staff. While many students were able to identify a teacher or administrator who was supportive of LGBT people, about 25 percent of students said they heard school staff say anti-LGBT remarks.
Other forms of discrimination were found across the country. For example, students shared their experiences of not being allowed to bring a same-sex date to a school dance, being disciplined for showing affection to a person of the same sex, or not being allowed to wear the clothes they wanted to wear. In schools where LGBT students had these negative experiences, or did not have the support of school staff, they were more likely to miss school and have a lower GPA.
GLSEN noted that because Florida’s students were experiencing high levels of harassment, it would be beneficial for schools to incorporate LGBT people into anti-bullying campaigns, support gay-straight alliances, educate school staff on LGBT issues, and for students to have better access to LGBT resources in their curriculum.
“These actions can move us toward a future in which all students in Florida will have the opportunity to learn and succeed in school,” according to a press release.
To read the school climate surveys for the 29 states published, as well as other data gathered from the study, visit GLSEN.org/nscs.