The Realities of LGBT bullying

Schools should be a safe and nurturing environment to allow students to learn and grow. Unfortunately, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, school is not always a safe or friendly place. In 2011, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reported that nearly nine out of ten LGBT students experienced harassment at school because of their sexual orientation. Here in Louisiana, eight in ten students reported experiencing verbal harassment based on their sexual orientation. In fact most LGBT students said they had been victimized at school, but often did not report these incidents to adults. Louisiana students also overwhelmingly noted hearing homophobic, sexist and negative remarks about their gender expression. All of the data point to one conclusion: for LGBT students in Louisiana, and here in Baton Rouge, bullying is simply a matter of fact.

LGBT Bullying Fast Facts

  • 8 in 10 experienced verbal harassment (e.g., called names or threatened) based on their sexual orientation
  • Nearly 7 in 10 experienced verbal harassment based on the way they expressed their gender
  • Nearly 5 in 10 were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) based on their sexual orientation
  • 1 in 10 was physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) based on the way they expressed their gender

Source: GLSEN National School Climate Survey, Local School Climate Survey

  • 9 out of 10 students experienced harassment at school because of their sexual orientation
  • 8 of 10 students had been verbally harassed at school
  • 4 of 10 had been physically harassed at school
  • 6 of 10 felt unsafe at school
  • 2 of 10 had been the victim of a physical assault at school
  • 8 of 10 transgender students feel unsafe at school because of their gender expression

While some may say that “kids will be kids,” the reality is that LGBT bullying often goes far beyond the nostalgic rough and tumble of childhood those people suggest. The data indicate that LGBT bullying is both pervasive and extremely detrimental to children’s health and success:

School safety affects student success. Experiencing victimization in school hinders LGBT students’ academic success and educational aspirations. Students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression had lower grade point averages than students who were less often harassed … [and] were more than twice as likely to report that they did not plan to pursue any post-secondary education … than those who experienced lower levels.

GLSEN National School Climate Survey Executive Summary

Failing our children

In its study of LGBT bullying in Louisiana schools, GLSEN reported that students did not have access to in-school resources and support. This finding stands in stark contrast to the fact that nearly nine in ten people in Louisiana believe schools should protect gay and transgender students from bullying and harassment.

stand up

Standing up to bullying

There are many things each and every one of us can do to stand up to bullying. In recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month, CCA is devoting the month of October to raising awareness around Baton Rouge. Through media outreach and social media, we hope to encourage others in the community to stand with us against bullying. Will you stand with us and Geaux Purple?

Ways to stand up to bullying

  • Take part in Spirit Day on October 19th and encourage others, including your school, to Geaux Purple!
  • Start a Gay-Straight Alliance or similar club at your school to promote safe, affirming spaces and critical support for LGBT students.
  • Respond to anti-LGBT language and behavior: When you hear homophobic comments and jokes, even when not directed at a specific individual, let the person(s) making the comments know you find them offensive.
  • If you see anti-LGBT bullying, let the perpetrator know his or her behavior is wrong and harmful. If the situation is such in which you do not feel safe intervening, alert a teacher or administrator immediately.
  • If you know someone has experienced anti-LGBT bullying, let them know you are on their side and make an effort to spend time with the person at school.
  • Know that all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, should be treated with dignity and respect.
  • If someone you know displays thoughts of suicide or other self-harm, notify a teacher or administrator right away and call the Trevor Project Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) to speak with a trained volunteer counselor. There are people standing by ready to talk to you.

Source: GLAAD Official Anti-bullying Resource Kits for students & teachers

  • Take part in Spirit Day on October 19th and encourage others, including your school, to Geaux Purple!
  • Know that all students should feel safe in the classroom for purposes of a healthy learning environment.
  • Even in jest, anti-gay slurs have a very harmful impact on LGBT students. Ensure that such comments made in your classroom are dealt with seriously, regardless of whether they were intended to be intimidating or “humorous.”
  • Understand that homophobic and transphobic remarks are just as harmful as any other comments that demean and denigrate a young person, and should be disciplined accordingly.
  • If an LGBT student approaches you about
    having been bullied, report the matter to school administration immediately and let the student know you are on his or her side.
  • If you are aware of any student experiencing anti- LGBT bullying, reach out to the student and ask if you can better assist the student in any way. Alert the student’s other teachers.
Additional resources