Negative attitudes towards LGBTQ Youth place them at an increased risk for assault and violence. In community and school environments where LGBTQ Youth are not supported, LGBTQ youth end up being at a higher risk for victimization, and long-term negative effects that come with it. Across America, 1 in 3 LGBTQ students are bullied on school grounds each year.1 Additionally, LGBTQ Students are 2 times more likely to be physically assaulted, kicked, or shoved at school, when compared to heterosexual students.3
LGBTQ Youth also are victims of increased rates of extreme violence, often occurring on school grounds. LGBTQ Youth are 2 times more likely to be threatened and/or injured with a weapon on school property when compared to heterosexual youth.1 Additionally, over 10% of Hate Crimes are committed on school grounds.4 Simply put, our communities are not safe for LGBTQ Youth.
These acts of violence create an environment where all LGBTQ Youth feel unsafe in school. 6 in 10 LGBTQ Students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. 4 in 10 LGBTQ Students feel unsafe because of their gender identity.2 LGBTQ students do not only feel unsafe on campus, but can suffer in school performance because of it. LGBTQ Students are 170% more likely to skip at least one day a month because of safety concerns when compared to heterosexual students.1 Missing class instruction for safety concerns puts LGBTQ students at a disadvantage and can lead to LGBTQ students being put under more stress not to fall behind with their peers. It is critical that schools ensure the safety of all students, and create an environment where students feel safe and supported at school.
Increasing levels of harassment, violence, and assault on LGBTQ Youth have lasting effects and have been attributed to several alarming disparities. For LGBTQ students who experienced higher levels of victimization based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, they had lower self-esteem, less sense of school belonging, and higher levels of depression. Additionally, LGBTQ Youth who experienced victimization were 3 times more likely to miss school in the past month, and on average had lower GPAs than LGBTQ students who were less harassed. LGBTQ students who face higher levels of victimization are also 2 times more likely to not plan on pursuing post-secondary education.2 It is critical that school administrators take measures to ensure that these students receive relevant, and effective support to help mitigate the causes and effects of violence against LGBTQ Youth.
Over half of LGBTQ Youth did not report harassment or assault to school staff. The most common reasons given were: doubt in the effectiveness of intervention, or it would become worse if reported.2 They are not wrong to doubt school intervention. Of those who did report harassment or assault to school staff, over 60% of LGBTQ said that school staff did nothing in response, or told the student to ignore it.2 It is vital that any student who faces any form of victimization receive relevant support, and interventions to address those who facilitate this violence be conducted. Across America, schools are complicit in allowing an environment where it is acceptable to commit acts of violence against LGBTQ Students. This complacency with violence can be attributed to why 1 in 5 LGBTQ students reported changing schools due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at school.2 It is vital that schools take a proactive approach and provide a safe environment for all students
Violence against LGBTQ Students stems from a deep-rooted belief that there is something wrong and bad about LGBTQ individuals. Through education, advocacy and support, we can begin to address the disparity in victimization of LGBTQ Youth.
School administration must implement evidence-based procedures and interventions for when a student reports harassment or assault. Additionally, it is vital that schools facilitate a nonhostile and supportive environment for all students, and provide avenues for students to seek support after falling victim to harassment and assaults.
The Youth Pride Association currently operates several programs that work with school administrators to accomplish a safe, and supportive environment for LGBTQ students. YPA also operates educational programs aimed at supporting students through evidence-based education. It is vital that schools foster a positive and safe environment for all students. Through a positive school climate, the success of all students can be ensured no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.