Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation

GLSEN releases first national study on homophobia, gender nonconformity in elementary schools

Most teachers unprepared to address LGBT issues
Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gender non-conforming students are at particular risk for bullying, and many teachers are unprepared to address issues relating to gender expression and LGBT families, according to a groundbreaking new study of bias, bullying and homophobia in grades kindergarten through sixth grade.

The report by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) — Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States — examines students’ and teachers’ experiences with biased remarks and bullying, and their attitudes about gender expression and family diversity.

“School climate and victimization can affect students’ educational outcomes and personal development at every grade level,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard.

“Name-calling and bullying in elementary schools reinforce gender stereotypes and negative attitudes toward people based on their gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, race, religion or family composition,” reports Byard.

“Students and teachers report frequent use of disparaging remarks like ‘retard’ and ‘that’s so gay,’ and half of the teachers surveyed report bullying as a “serious problem” among their students.

“Students who do not conform to traditional gender norms are at higher risk for bullying, and are less likely than their peers to feel safe at school.

Key Findings from the report include:

  • The most common forms of biased language in elementary schools, heard regularly by both students and teachers, are the use of the word “gay” in a negative way, such as “that’s so gay,” Many also report regularly hearing students make homophobic remarks, such as “fag” or “lesbo.”
  • Approximately 75 percent of students reported that students at their school are called names, made fun of or bullied with at least some regularity.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 of elementary students in 3rd to 6th grade indicate that they do not always conform to traditional gender norms/roles – either they are boys who others sometimes think, act or look like a girl, or they are girls who others sometimes think, act or look like a boy.
  • Gender nonconforming students are less likely than other students to feel very safe at school (42% vs 61%), and are more likely than others to indicate they sometimes do not want to go to school because they feel unsafe or afraid there.
  • Only a third (34%) of teachers report having personally engaged in efforts to create a safe and supportive classroom environment for gender nonconforming students.
  • While an overwhelming majority of elementary school teachers say that they include representations of different families when the topic of families comes up in their classrooms (89%), less than a quarter of teachers report any representation of lesbian, gay or bisexual parents (21%) or transgender parents (8%).
  • Only a quarter (24%) of teachers report having personally engaged in efforts to create a safe and supportive classroom environment for families with LGBT parents.

“Over the past few years, there has been an increase in research on bullying in schools, including elementary schools,” said GLSEN Senior Director of Research & Strategic Initiatives Dr. Joseph Kosciw.

“However, our report is one of the few that examines bias-based bullying at the elementary school level and the first to examine incidence of homophobic remarks and the negative experiences of children who do not conform to societal standards in their gender expression from a national vantage point,” he said.

GLSEN also released Ready, Set, Respect! GLSEN’s Elementary School Toolkit, an instructional resource developed to help educators address issues raised in Playgrounds and Prejudice, particularly teachers’ willingness to address but lack of understanding of biased language, LGBT-inclusive family diversity and gender nonconformity.

The report was based on national surveys of 1,065 elementary school students in 3rd to 6th grade and 1,099 elementary school teachers of K-6th grade, and were conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of GLSEN during November and December 2010.

A copy of the complete Playgrounds and Prejudice report can be downloaded here (PDF).

Archives: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Filed under: National Headlines

12 more reader comments:

  1. wow

    Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 2:49pm
  2. Schools need to do more for their students. If school’s can’t, don’t tell us that kids are required to go to school because if a LGBT kid gets bullied, it will do him or her more bad than good.

    Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 2:58pm
  3. This is by far my least favorite thing about my generation: the idea that being LGBT is bad. There is no instance that I look down on someone more than when I hear “That’s so gay” or “Fag” being used as a mean remark. I feel like I can really separate the shallow people from the people that actually think about the things they say just by hearing one of those phrases. I really hope that some people might begin to mature once they’re out of highschool but right now its not looking too good (according to what I see/hear). Parents need to mature a little bit and teach kids to accept people for how they are. Thats just my 2 cents.

    Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 3:03pm
  4. I know what it’s like to be bullied (all gays do) and it scars us for a long time. If I EVER have kids… I DON’t EVER want them to suffer through that. EVER.

    Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 3:04pm
  5. @Jonnie – I was bullied too and beaten to a pulp once while serving in the military for being gay. I would love to have a child someday and it’s completely possible these days for gay men. I suffered and would do anything humanly possible to prevent my child from suffering like we did. As I get older, it gets better.

    Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 3:57pm
  6. Teachers don’t do anything about it because they don’t want to.
    It really is disgusting that they’re aware of suffering children and do nothing about it.

    Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 4:17pm
  7. Boy I remember high school and middle school, calling me a lez all because I looked butch and held a girl’s hand. Although the hand holding was a culture thing, never really saw what was gay about it. Granted they were only 45% true.

    Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 9:46pm
  8. sad but true. but the sick part is when we have the ones like the WBC that we all shoud be killed

    Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 11:26pm
  9. It’s so depressing to see how little has changed in *40 years* (when I was in elementary school).

    Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 11:48pm
  10. Another failure of government schools. If we had school choice parents could send their kids to a school that didn’t send them home bruised, scraped and depressed.

    Patents wouldn’t even have to explicitly discuss their child’s being gay and the child wouldn’t even have to come out. Even a homophobic patent doesn’t want their kid being beaten up. But if a parent couldn’t deal with their child’s sexuality, or even just did not want o discuss sex, they could just choose to send the child to a school with a better reputation for providing education for artsy kids or sporty girls etc.

    Gays have for to long evaded our complicity as a community in the modern day slave trade whe poor black and brown kids are rounded up and sold to the educrat cartels for campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. We have been hoping to receive, with many delays, crumbs of our civil rights, at the cost of rising illiteracy and drop outs rates and unemployment for poor black people. It’s racism and it’s a crime aainst humanity.

    Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 4:08am
  11. Thank god none of them are ever getting into office… *shudder*

    Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 4:02pm
  12. There is also a risk that these kids will be forced to undergo hormone treatment and surgery to make them ‘conform.’ This is known as ‘trans*’ It means that gentle boys and tough girls will not be allowed to exist. NOBODY is ‘trapped in the wrong body.’ We are trapped in a culture that only sees two things; girl=soft and pink, boy=hard and blue. It is wrong, it is sexist, and it is dangerous.

    Posted on Monday, January 23, 2012 at 2:47pm