New York, NY
– GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, today released “From Teasing to Torment: A Profile of School Climate in Michigan,” which provides a rare look into Michigan students’ experiences with bullying and harassment as well as their attitudes about this serious problem. The results are based on students in Michigan who were surveyed as part of a national study of secondary school students and teachers conducted by Harris Interactive®.
“Bullying and harassment are clearly significant issues in Michigan schools,” said Nkosi Figeroa, GLSEN Detroit chair. “It is time that parents, teachers, students, school administrators and legislators work together to make sure schools are safer for all students.”
Results from the survey demonstrate that bullying is common in Michigan schools, and the basis for which students are frequent targets of verbal and physical harassment:
- More than a third (35%) of all Michigan students thought that bullying, name calling and harassment was a somewhat or serious problem in their schools.
- The most common types of bullying, name calling and harassment were based on appearance, actual or perceived sexual orientation, and gender expression. A majority (71%) of the students were harassed due to appearance, two-thirds (67%) were harassed because they were or were thought to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and 60% were harassed due to their gender expression.
- A vast majority (90%) of Michigan students reported hearing homophobic remarks such as, “that is so gay” to indicate bad or worthless; and derogatory terms like “faggot” were heard by 82% of students.
- When teachers or other staff heard derogatory remarks or biased language, intervention was not as common as expected. There was no correction or consequences when racist, homophobic, or sexist remarks were made as often as 30%, 27%, and 25% of the time respectively.
- A majority (67%) of students who experienced harassment or assault at school did not report it to a teacher, principal or other school staff person; More than a quarter (26%) of students said they didn’t report incidents because they believed that school staff would not care or believe them, or that it would only make the situation worse.
Just over half (54%) of Michigan students reported that they were protected by a school anti-harassment policy that specifically mentioned sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. About a fifth (18%) were not sure if their school provided any anti-harassment protections at all.
“Everyone agrees that we want our students to be safe, so it is time to listen to students and teachers and make some changes in Michigan schools,” said Kevin Jennings, 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 provides for specific categories can help ensure that Michigan’s schools are safe for all students.”
Harris Interactive® conducted the online study on behalf of GLSEN between January 13 and 31, 2005. A total of 3,450 U.S. public and private/parochial students ages 13 to 18 were surveyed. Within this sample, an oversample of students was drawn from several states including Michigan. A total of 199 respondents attended schools in Michigan at the time of the survey. Sample was drawn from the Harris Interactive multimillion member online panel of cooperative respondents. Invitations for this study were emailed to a selected sample of the database identified as residing in the United States and being a student between the ages of 13 and 18. Data for the national survey were weighted to reflect the national population of children ages 13 to 18 for key demographic variables (gender, age, race and ethnicity, size of place, region, and parent’s education). A post weight was applied to the student data to adjust for the 12 state oversampling so that the regional distribution reflects the nation as a whole. Demographic weights were based on U.S. Census data obtained via the March 2004 Current Population Survey (CPS).
In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population of U.S. youth aged 13 to 18 who attend public or private/parochial school had been polled with complete accuracy. This online sample is not a probability sample.
Note: The data for this survey were collected by Harris Interactive on behalf of GLSEN. Harris Interactive and GLSEN are jointly responsible for the survey design. Harris Interactive is responsible for the online data collected, and the weighting and analysis of the national data and GLSEN is responsible for the Michigan data analysis and reporting. State specific data including that which is presented in this report does not reflect the postweight mentioned previously.
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSEN’s educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
About Harris Interactive®
Harris Interactive Inc. (www.harrisinteractive.com) is the 13th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world, perhaps best known for The Harris Poll® and for pioneering and engineering Internet-based research methods. The Rochester, New York–based global research company blends premier strategic consulting with innovative and efficient methods of investigation, analysis and application, conducting proprietary and public research globally to help clients achieve clear, material and enduring results.
Blending science and art, Harris Interactive combines its intellectual capital and one of the world’s largest online panels of respondents, with premier Internet survey technology and sophisticated research methods to market leadership through its US, Europe (www.harrisinteractive.com/europe) and Asia offices, its wholly owned subsidiary, Novatris in Paris (www.novatris.com), and through an independent global network of affiliate market research companies.