Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Ends – School Harassment Still Puts GLBT Youth at Risk

The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in the military ended today, a reason for celebration.  Here is the Obama administration video commemorating the end of the policy and featuring the testimony of a number of former servicemen and women.

This is another milestone in the ongoing fight for gay civil rights.  In education, a pressing gay rights issue is the school bullying and harrassment that put gay youth at serious risk.

While trying to deal with all the challenges of being a teenager, gay/ lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender (GLBT) teens additionally have to deal with harassment, threats, and violence directed at them on a daily basis.  They hear anti-gay slurs about 26 times a day or once every 14 minutes.  Even more troubling, a study found that thirty-one percent of gay youth had been threatened or injured at school in the last year alone!  Their mental health and education, not to mention their physical well-being, are at-risk.  These statistics are from the Mental Health America site, citations can be found there.

How is their mental health being affected?

  • Gay and lesbian teens are at high risk because ‘their distress is a direct result of the hatred and prejudice that surround them,’ not because of their inherently gay or lesbian identity orientation.
  • Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

How is their education being affected?

  • Gay teens in U.S. schools are often subjected to such intense bullying that they’re unable to receive an adequate education.
  • They’re often embarrassed or ashamed of being targeted and may not report the abuse.
  • GLBT students are more apt to skip school due to the fear, threats, and property vandalism directed at them.
  • One survey revealed that 22 percent of gay respondents had skipped school in the past month because they felt unsafe there.
  • Twenty-eight percent of gay students will drop out of school. This is more than three times the national average for heterosexual students.
  • GLBT youth feel they have nowhere to turn. According to several surveys, four out of five gay and lesbian students say they don’t know one supportive adult at school.

Visit the Safe Schools Coalition for educator guides on eliminating anti-gay harassment in schools.

This entry was posted in Bias, Changing the Discourse, education reform, school reform, Schools and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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