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ERIC Number: ED535177
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 160
Abstractor: ERIC
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-9340-9210-1
The 2011 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Our Nation's Schools
Kosciw, Joseph G.; Greytak, Emily A.; Bartkiewicz, Mark J.; Boesen, Madelyn J.; Palmer, Neal A.
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
In 1999, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) identified the need for national data on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and launched the first National School Climate Survey (NSCS). At the time, the school experiences of LGBT youth were under-documented and nearly absent from national studies of adolescents. For more than a decade, the biennial NSCS has documented the unique challenges LGBT students face and identified interventions that can improve school climate. The survey explores the prevalence of anti-LGBT language and victimization, the effect that these experiences have on LGBT students' achievement and well-being, and the utility of interventions in lessening the negative effects of a hostile school climate and promoting a positive educational experience. The survey also examines demographic and community-level differences in LGBT students' experiences. The NSCS remains one of the few studies to examine the school experiences of LGBT students nationally, and its results have been vital to GLSEN's understanding of the issues that LGBT students face, thereby informing the authors' ongoing work to ensure safe and affirming schools for all. In their 2011 survey, the authors examine the experiences of LGBT students with regard to indicators of negative school climate: (1) hearing biased remarks, including homophobic remarks, in school; (2) feeling unsafe in school because of personal characteristics, such as sexual orientation, gender expression, or race/ethnicity; (3) missing classes or days of school because of safety reasons; and (4) experiencing harassment and assault in school. They also examine: (1) the possible negative effects of a hostile school climate on LGBT students' academic achievement, educational aspirations, and psychological well-being; (2) whether or not students report experiences of victimization to school officials or to family members and how these adults address the problem; and (3) how the school experiences of LGBT students differ by personal and community characteristics. In addition, they demonstrate the degree to which LGBT students have access to supportive resources in school, and they explore the possible benefits of these resources, including: (1) Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) or similar clubs; (2) anti-bullying/harassment school policies and laws; (3) supportive school staff; and (4) curricula that are inclusive of LGBT-related topics. Given that GLSEN has more than a decade of data, they examine changes over the time on indicators of negative school climate and levels of access to LGBT-related resources in schools. GLSEN used two methods to obtain a representative national sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth to participate in a survey: 1) outreach through national, regional, and local organizations that provide services to or advocate on behalf of LGBT youth, and 2) targeted advertising on the social networking site Facebook. The final sample consisted of a total of 8,584 students between the ages of 13 and 20. Students were from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and from 3,224 unique school districts. About two thirds of the sample (67.9%) was White, about half (49.6%) was female, and over half identified as gay or lesbian (61.3%). Students were in grades 6 to 12, with the largest numbers in grades 10 and 11. Results from the 2011 National School Climate Survey demonstrate the ways in which school-based support--such as supportive staff, anti-bullying/harassment policies, LGBT-inclusive curricular resources, and GSAs--can positively affect LGBT students' school experiences. Furthermore, results show how comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment state laws can positively affect school climate for these students. Therefore, the authors recommend the following measures: (1) Advocate for comprehensive bullying/harassment legislation at the state and federal levels that specifically enumerates sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as protected categories alongside others such as race, religion, and disability; (2) Adopt and implement comprehensive bullying/harassment policies that specifically enumerate sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in individual schools and districts, with clear and effective systems for reporting and addressing incidents that students experience; (3) Ensure that school policies and practices, such as those related to dress codes and school dances, do not discriminate against LGBT students; (4) Support student clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances, that provide support for LGBT students and address LGBT issues in education; (5) Provide training for school staff to improve rates of intervention and increase the number of supportive teachers and other staff available to students; and (6) Increase student access to appropriate and accurate information regarding LGBT people, history, and events through inclusive curricula and library and Internet resources. Taken together, such measures can move us toward a future in which all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed in school, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. (Contains 9 tables, 82 figures and 186 notes.) [For "The 2011 National School Climate Survey: Key Findings on the Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Our Nation's Schools. Executive Summary," see ED535178.]
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). 121 West 27th Street Suite 804, New York, NY 10001. Tel: 212-727-0135; Fax: 212-727-0254; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)