Monday, October 22, 2007

A Safe Environment for LGBT Students

Wisconsin was the first state in the country to enact a law guaranteeing equal access to curriculum and extracurricular activities to all students, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Information about starting a GSA

In its 2005 National School Climate Survey, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found:
75% of students heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of ten (89%) reported hearing "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" -- meaning "stupid" or "worthless" -- frequently or often.
Over a third (37.8%) of students experienced physical harassment at school based on sexual orientation and more than a quarter (26%) based on their gender expression.
Nearly one-fifth (17.6%) of students had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth (11.8%) because of their gender expression.
LGBTQ students were five times more likely to report having skipped school in the last month because of safety concerns than the general population of students.
LGBTQ students who experience more frequent physical harassment were more likely to report they did not plan to go to college. Overall, LGBTQ students were twice as likely as the general population of students to report they were not planning to pursue any post-secondary education.
The average GPA for LGBTQ students who were frequently physically harassed was half a grade lower than that of LGBTQ students experiencing less harassment.


Sarah4 said...


I wish I could say, "wow I can't believe that's going on in the world and schools especially." But unfortunatly those statistics aren't surprising to me at all. It's soooo sad that crude comments and harrasing are seriously screwing these kids up for life. What if they are still working at the local McDonald's flipping burgers for the rest of their lives when they could have gone to do bigger and better things. I'm very thankful for the GSA's though. I think that is a very kewl idea and it would be neat to get one started in all high schools everywhere. But unfortunatly i can't see that happening here either. I think that if that was to be set in place here are RCHS then the people who were involved with it would also be harrassed. Sad sad thing huh....

jaleesaWH said...

i agree with Sarah because here at rchs they have a zero tolerance policy and not all of the time they support or act upon it. i do support GSA 100% they do soo much for the students...maybe if we had one here we wouldn't have soo many problems between the students. most people who don't really understand LGBT people act different because they dont know what they are dealing with ( in a way to put it) but it would be something amazing to start up here at RCHS.

Lea Hansen-George said...

jaleesa - While teaching in Viroqua, I advised a GSA and co-advised a Diversity Group. The Diversity Group had well over two-dozen members and the GSA had a dozen or so members.

Both organizations sponsored monthly movie nights, a lecture series (we'd invite people to come in and lecture, do Q&A's etc. as well as Coffee Houses, fund-raisers, annual Day of Silence events, etc.

I think both groups were beneficial to many students who had felt disenfranchised, isolated and sometimes depressed or significantly "stressed out" over the prospect of coming to school and experiencing daily barrages of verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Many of these kids simply needed a support system.

Personally, I miss the lunch periods we often spent together the most. I'd often have ten plus kids as well as the Art teacher who served as the co-adviser of the Diversity group, all engaged in animated, stimulating topics of the day. We all learned a lot from each other. We also had a lot of fun together. I think my room was considered a "safe haven" for some of those kids.

Of course we were subjected to some animosity on behalf of a small but very vocal group of citizens who wrote letters to the editor, spoke at school board meetings and even went so far as to call and show up at some of our members homes to criticize what we were doing and the very idea of tolerance toward the LGBT community.

In the end, it was worth it. Like I said, the GSA was an invaluable support for many kids who felt alone and sometimes afraid. If we made even the tiniest positive difference for those was all worth it.

Lea Hansen-George said...

oh, this satisfies another project requirement!

jaleesaWH said...

see i really want RCHS to have one but i really dont know any teachers i would ask besides jane kintz the art teacher but i dont know how i would propose something like that.....could you help me?

Lea Hansen-George said...

Go to GLSEN's website. They have tools on starting GSAs. I'll look for the specific info and post it on today's post, "Assault on Gay America." I'll try to hook you up with some good resource people as well. I'll get back to you.