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Only One-Fifth of Students Report Being Exposed to LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum

Only One-Fifth of Students Report Being Exposed to LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum

Just ahead of National Bullying Prevention Month, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network has released a report based on surveys of U.S. secondary school students and teachers that revisits what the school climate looks and feels like in today’s schools.

The report found that bullying is still a reoccurring problem for today’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender students, and that many schools lack the resources needed to make positive strides.

"LGBTQ students still face rates of violence much higher relative to their peers,” the reports says, and “[t]eachers report that they are less comfortable and less prepared to address the harsh conditions faced by transgender and gender nonconforming students.”

While 85.1 percent of teachers said they receive professional development to address bullying and harassment, only 32.9 percent of teachers said they received professional development to handle lesbian, gay or bisexual student issues. Even less, 23.6 percent, said they receive training to address transgender student issues.

For students, only 20.8 percent or about one-fifth reported exposure to an LGBT-inclusive curriculum. Research has proven that LGBT students who are "taught about LGBT people, history, or events in any of their classes” are significantly less likely to miss school.

This report found that for LGBT students, "being taught about LGBT topics in any of their classes was related to lower levels of LGBT-related victimization.”

Further, while a majority of schools have some kind of anti-bullying policy on the books, only about half (54.5 percent) have enumerated policies that specifically address the bullying and harassment of students based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

The report makes several recommendations for how changes can be made to ensure that LGBT students are afforded the same positive school experiences as other groups.

For one, it recommends the presence of supportive groups commonly referred to as Gay Straight Alliances (GSA).

"Specifically, GSAs can educate students and staff on the types and consequences of discrimination and bias in schools,” the report says.

"Through their advocacy efforts, GSAs can also promote changes at the school level that can create less hostile environments, such as more inclusive policies.”

It also recommends ensuring teachers receive the proper preparation for addressing LGBT issues through appropriate professional development opportunities. Educators, the report said, should be held responsible for creating LGBT-inclusive material "to integrate LGBT issues into their curriculum and effectively address bias in their classroom.”

On a larger scale, the report recommends that leaders are regularly assessing the educational landscape of schools on a national and local level to keep up with the issue.

"Routinely evaluate school climate at the building or district level to identify potential areas of need, target interventions, and measure progress, including ways to identify potential disparities among groups of students, such as LGBTQ students, gender nonconforming students, students of color, and students with disabilities,” the report says.

Read the report in its entirety here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

9/30/2016

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