Bullying of LGBT Teens Encourages Antibullying Initiatives
We all have been the target of discrimination, bias, teasing, and bullying. At some point in most people's lives they are targeted for being too fat, too skinny, too nerdy, too short, too tall, too rich, too poor, too dark, too light, too smart, too dumb, too Jewish, not Christian, too athletic, too wimpy, too sexual, not sexual, and the list goes on and on. Many schools stop kids from using ethnic slurs, or picking on people because of their size or social status, or brains, but few stop kids from saying things like "that's gay."
A recent Harris Interactive Survey of 3,400 students and 1,000 educators conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reported that 65% of the participants reported verbal abuse or physical assaults related to homophobia in the last year. In addition, 84% of the participants reported hearing derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" at school, and 38% of the students said they had been subjected to physical harassment because of their sexual identity.
When school is unsafe, kids skip school and fail to go on to college, which is a tragedy for them as well as our economy. The things schools can do to support LGBT students include:
- Start young - include books about diversity in libraries for all ages;
- Use the use lesbian, gay, bisexual in discussions about tolerance and diversity;
- Have a LGBT "safe" teacher - too talk to and learn about community resources;
- Have a Rainbow Alliance or club to celebrate diversity;
- Do teacher training to encourage them not to tolerate harassment based on sexual identity; and
- Have antibullying policies that clearly make harassment based on sexual orientation unacceptable.
Photo credit: celesteh