STUDY: Climate Improving For LGBT Students, But Nearly 40% Still Report Physical Harassment

Just in time for the new school year, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network has released the findings of its 2011 National School Climate Survey.

The good news is that the study found a decreased use of anti-LGBT victimization for the first time in its 12-year history, as well as an increase in access to resources for queer students—including anti-bullying policies and gay-straight student organizations.

But there’s still cause for concern, says GLSEN research director said Dr. Joseph Kosciw: “The 2011 survey marks a possible turning point… but an alarming number of LGBT youth still face barriers that inhibit their ability to receive an education,” says Kosciw. “And although we have seen an increase in school supports that can improve school climate for these youth, many of these young people reported being unable to access these supports in their schools.”

Some highlights from the 2011 NSCS:

* 8 out of 10 LGBT students (81.9%) experienced harassment at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

* 38.3% reported being physically harassed and 18.3% reported being physically assaulted at school.

* Only 39.6% of LGBT students reported an incident of harassment or assault to school personnel.

*  84.9% of LGBT students heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) and 71.3% heard homophobic remarks (e.g., “dyke” or “faggot”) frequently or often at school.

* LGBT students reported feeling unsafe in specific school spaces—most commonly locker rooms (39.0%), bathrooms (38.8%) and gym class (32.5%).

* Transgender students experienced more hostile school climates, with 80% of trans students reportedly feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression.

*  29.8% of LGBT students reported skipping at least one class, and 31.8% missed at least one entire day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.

* Only 54.9% of students at a school with a GSA felt unsafe, versus. 70.6% of those without.

* Only 43.4% of students whose school utilized an LGBT-inclusive curriculum reported incidents of harassment or feeling unsafe , as compared to 63.6% of other students.

The 2011 survey includes responses from 8,584 students between the ages of 13 and 20 from 3,224 school district across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

If you’re a recent graduate or know an LGBT student still in school, do these findings ring true? Grade the survey in the comments section. And for more on gay youth, check out Queerty’s back-to-school feature on LGBT student leaders.