Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rural lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender youth feel less safe at school than urban LGBT, study finds

Rural lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth reported feeling less safe, facing heightened victimization and having fewer supportive resources than their urban counterparts, according to a study from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The study, Strengths and Silences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students in Rural and Small Town Schools, was released today, and documents more than 2,300 LGBT high school students' experiences using data from GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey.

An unsafe school environment for LGBT high school students contributes to poorer grade point averages, higher absenteeism and lowered aspirations to attend college, the study concludes. The study also reveals that rural LGBT youth have less access to LGBT support resources, including inclusive curricula, supportive teachers, anti-bullying policies and access to gay-straight alliance student clubs.

Other key findings from the study include: 87 percent of rural LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed because of sexual orientation, 91 percent reported hearing the word "gay" used negatively, 79 percent said they frequently heard other homophobic remarks, only 13 percent reported that school personnel ever intervened when they heard negative remarks about sexual orientation. Rural LGBT students in the South and Midwest were more likely to feel unsafe than those living in rural parts of the Northeast and West. (Read more)

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