Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Survey: Anti-Gay Bullying and Harassment in North Carolina Schools

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A Press Release from the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN): Dec 06, 2005 Media Contacts: Esther Rege 202-210-8469 esther@parkandassociates.com Riley Snorton 646-388-6580 rsnorton@glsen.org North Carolina students one-third more likely than students nationwide to say that bullying is a problem in schools New York, NY – GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, today released “From Teasing to Torment: A Profile of School Climate in North Carolina,” which provides a rare look into students’ experiences with bullying and harassment as well as their attitudes about this serious problem. The results are based on students in North Carolina who were surveyed as part of a national study of secondary school students and teachers conducted by Harris Interactive®. Results from the survey demonstrate that bullying is far too common in North Carolina schools:
  • Nearly half of all North Carolina students thought that bullying was a somewhat or serious problem in their schools and were 33% more likely to say it was a somewhat or serious problem than students in the nation as a whole (48% vs. 36%).
  • The most common reasons for bullying and harassment were appearance, actual or perceived sexual orientation, and gender expression. Eight out of ten students were harassed due to appearance, and seven out of ten were harassed because they were or were thought to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
  • A majority (78%) of North Carolina students reported hearing homophobic remarks such as, “that is so gay” to indicate bad or worthless; and derogatory terms like “faggot” were heard by 84% of students.
  • Surprisingly, many students heard biased language from school staff. Seventeen percent (17%) of students heard sexist language, 16% heard homophobic remarks, and 12% heard negative religious remarks from teachers and other staff.
  • Four in ten students who experienced harassment or assault at school did not report it to a teacher, principal or other school staff person. Of those that did report incidents, less than half (47%) reported that some immediate action was taken by school staff to address the situation.
“Bullying and harassment are clearly significant issues in North Carolina schools,” said Anne Krieg, board member of the Parent Teacher Student Association at Glenn High School in Kernersville, NC. “It is time that parents, teachers, students, school administrators and legislators work together to make sure schools are safer for all students.” Less than half (44%) of North Carolina students reported that they were protected by a school anti-harassment policy that specifically mentioned sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. About a fourth were not sure if their school provided any anti-harassment protections at all. “It is time to listen to our students and teachers and make some changes in North Carolina schools,” said Kevin Jennings, a North Carolina native and Founder and Executive Director of GLSEN. “Training sessions can help teachers assess and respond to incidents of verbal and physical harassment and state-level safe school legislation that include specific categories can help ensure that North Carolina’s schools are safe for all students.” For the entire press release, including the survey methodology and information about the survey group visit the original source by clicking here ======= Thank you, thank you, thank you... now that we have some real numbers to back up what people have been saying for years, maybe school districts and systems here in North Carolina will take some action. As a freshman at The R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, NC, I established the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System's seconmd gay-straight alliance, which later morphed into a group which focused on a variety of student diversity and awareness issues. I was also involve dint he now defunct Winston-Salem chapter of GLSEN. I can't tell you how many times we went ot teh WS/FC Board of Education in order to ask them to amend their non-discrimination and harassment policies to include sexual orientation and gender-identity. We also asked the board to include questions on anti-gay harassment within the system's school climate surveys. They neglected to do any of this, although they did include the survey questions on parents' surveys. How in the world were the parents supposed to know what was happening at school? Yes, of course, in a perfect world parents would be fully aware of their children's problems at school, but we don't live in that perfect world. The simple fact of the matter is that many students who are targets of anti-gay harassment, or students who witness other students being harassed, don't go home and tell their parents about this. Only a brave few take the chance of being alienated from their friends and family by standing up to, not only protect themselves, but to protect other students as well. So, now that this little post has turned into a rant against the WS/FC Board of Education, I'm just going to keep going. :) The Board of Education needs to take some action, NOW! I think that it is funny that one of the persons quoted in the press release is actually a person involved within one of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools (Anne Krieg, PTSA, Glenn High School, Kernersville, Forsyth County, NC). I think that the Board of Education needs to look at that closely. They also need to be aware of the fact that now that this press release is out, with a member of one of their PTSA's saying that the school climate needs to change, the Board is going to be put to shame if they continue to ignore the situation and the concerns of parents, students, teachers, staff and administrators. Hey Board Members: You were elected to do one thing and to do one thing only... ensure that every child has access to education, give them that education and protect them while they are learning... and guess what Board Members... you ARE NOT protecting EVERY child. I don't care if you think homosexuality is the world's most abominable sin. I could care less about that. It isn't your job to let your personal religious views come in the way of making public policy. Start doing your jobs, people, and protect the students which were entrusted to your care by the vote of the people.