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California

New research shows LGBTQ-inclusive lessons improve school climate

Friday, June 8, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — A report released this week by the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and the California Safe Schools Coalition (CSSC) provides new insight into the impact on individual students and school climate as a whole when different class lessons include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people and issues.

Among the report’s key findings is that LGBTQ-inclusive lessons, when rated by students as “mostly supportive,” positively impact school climate across the board.

Additionally, any mention of LGBTQ people or issues in class – supportive or not – increases individual students’ feelings of safety regardless of their sexual orientation. Physical education (PE) classes are the only exception, where “neutral/mixed” LGBTQ-inclusive lessons have a negative effect on students.

“These data prove what Gay-Straight Alliance activists have known for years: when students have factual lessons that honestly reflect the world and the people around them, they are more likely to succeed and feel safe in school,” said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

“This important research supports emerging best practices on the school, district, and state level, including California’s groundbreaking FAIR Education Act, which updates education guidelines to end the exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from social studies lessons,” she said.

The “Lessons That Matter” report expands on previous research from organizations including the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) as well as the California Safe Schools Coalition that found a correlation between schools with LGBTQ-inclusive lessons and student-reported feelings of safety.

The report honed in on the specific classes and types of inclusive lessons that most positively impact school climate.

“This new research clearly shows how important inclusive lessons can be in today’s schools,” said University of Arizona Professor Stephen T. Russell, the lead researcher for the California Safe Schools Coalition.

“At a time when there is more concern than ever about LGBTQ bullying and safety in schools, this research confirms that students need to see themselves reflected in lessons. When they do, they feel safer and more connected at school – and the school climate is healthier for everyone,” said Russell.

The report analyzed data from the California Safe Schools Coalition’s 2008 Preventing School Harassment (PSH) survey, which asked 1,232 students at 154 California high schools about school safety and the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning students and their straight allies.

You can download the full report here.

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8 more reader comments:

  1. Sounds reasonable… discussiona nd discourse… usually a good thing, especially if overseen by an adult…

    Posted on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:12am
  2. Well that should be common sense! :3

    Posted on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:12am
  3. it’s amazing this is new to people. I guess they never heard of the dark ages when everything under the sun was this huge terrible secret only the privileged few could know about. fear makes only problems, but knowledge and understanding lead to easy solutions.

    Posted on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:16am
  4. Who would’ve thunk it? Oh, that’s right: ME!

    Posted on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:18am
  5. Of course it does…..We are only afraid of the unknown and the things we keep in the shadow…

    Posted on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:19am
  6. Say WHAT?!

    Posted on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:20am
  7. It’s a little premature to make a correlation between LGBTQ-inclusive classes and improved school climate. I think it’s far more likely that these surveys were collected in far more liberal areas. If the same classes were offered and surveys conducted in — say — Missouri, I’m sure there would be a far more negative, even derisive, response.

    Posted on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 11:27am
  8. I think this is a good idea. In my opinion children are not born with prejudices towards LGBTQ people. It is something that they learn. I wish more schools would be on board with these types of lessons so more children would learn acceptance and tolerance rather than grow up hating something they do not understand. Sadly, as Jenna says, in many places these classes would be met with a negative response and a lot of resistance.

    Posted on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 2:36pm