GLSEN Reports Massachusetts Schools Unsafe For Many LGBTQ Secondary Students

LGBTQ Secondary Students

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Massachusetts schools lack many inclusive resources and affirming policies for LGBTQ students 

MASSACHUSETTS–GLSEN today released state-level data from its benchmark National School Climate Survey, which demonstrate that Massachusetts schools were not safe for most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) middle and high school students. In addition, many LGBTQ students in Massachusetts did not have access to important school resources, such as an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, and were not protected by supportive and inclusive school policies.

GLSEN’s biennial National School Climate Survey, begun in 1999, is the only survey of its kind, documenting the experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools, including the extent of the challenges that they face and their access to the school-based resources that support their educational success and well-being. The survey has consistently demonstrated that specific school-based supports are related to a safer and more inclusive school climate, including supportive educators, LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, comprehensive and affirming policies, and student clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances or Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs).

The release of today’s state-specific data allows advocates, educators, administrators, and policymakers, among others, to evaluate school climate in their state. For Massachusetts specifically, the report found:

The vast majority of LGBTQ students in Massachusetts regularly heard anti-LGBTQ remarks.

  • 72% of LGBTQ students reported regularly hearing homophobic remarks in school, and 64% reported regularly hearing negative remarks about transgender people.
  • Some students also regularly heard school staff make homophobic remarks (10%) and many regularly heard school staff make negative remarks about someone’s gender expression (29%).

Most LGBTQ students in Massachusetts experienced bias-based victimization at school.

  • 60% of LGBTQ students experienced verbal harassment at school based on sexual orientation, and 52% experienced verbal harassment at school based on gender expression.
  • One-half of LGBTQ students never reported incidents of school victimization to school staff (50%) and only 25% of those who reported incidents said it resulted in effective staff intervention.
  • LGBTQ students reported that they also experienced victimization at school based on disability (25%), race/ethnicity (19%), and religion (19%).

Many LGBTQ students in Massachusetts reported discriminatory policies and/or practices at their school.

  • Nearly half of students (45%) experienced at least one form of anti-LGBTQ discrimination at school during the past year.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 LGBTQ students (17%) in Massachusetts were disciplined for public displays of affection (PDA) that did not result in similar action for non-LGBTQ students.
  • Over 1 in 3 transgender students (36%) were unable to use the school restroom aligned with their gender, and nearly 1 in 3 transgender students (31%) were prevented from using their chosen name or pronouns in school.
  • Some LGBTQ students reported being unable to wear LGBTQ-supportive apparel (6%), being unable to form a GSA (8%), and being unable to bring a same-gender date to a school dance (5%).

Many LGBTQ students in Massachusetts did not have access to in-school resources and supports.

  • Only 25% of LGBTQ students attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy that included specific protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
  • Only 24% reported that their school had a policy or official guidelines to support transgender or gender nonconforming students.
  • Fewer than 2 in 5 (35%) were taught an inclusive curriculum that had positive representations of LGBTQ people, history, or events.
  • Only 18% reported receiving LGBTQ-inclusive sex education at school.
  • 82% of students reported having a GSA or similar supportive club in their school.

“This research makes clear that many LGBTQ students in Massachusetts still face hostile school environments, many of which lack the resources to ensure their safety,” said Trenda Loftin, Co-Chair from GLSEN Massachusetts. “In order to prioritize the safety and well-being of all students, leaders throughout the state of Massachusetts must support comprehensive policies and practices that are inclusive and affirming of LGBTQ students.”

Comprehensive state snapshots for 41 states and Puerto Rico with additional data can be found at www.glsen.org/statesnapshots. To access national-level infographics, an executive summary and the full GLSEN National School Climate Survey report, visit www.glsen.org/nscs.

About GLSEN:

GLSEN works to create safe and inclusive schools for all. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach millions of students and educators in K-12 schools, via action at the national, state, and local level. Over nearly three decades of work, GLSEN has improved conditions for LGBTQ students across the United States and launched an international movement to address LGBTQ issues in education and promote respect for all in schools. Find more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, school-based programs, research, and professional development for educators at www.glsen.org.

[From a News Release]