New Survey Illustrates Severity of Problem and Common Reasons for Harassment
New York, NY (June 14, 2006) – GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, today released From Teasing to Torment: A Profile of School Climate in Arizona, a report that provides a rare look into student experiences with bullying and harassment in Arizona schools. The results are based on students in Arizona who were surveyed as part of a national study of secondary school students and teachers conducted by Harris Interactive® and GLSEN’s research department.
Key findings from the report include:
Bullying, name-calling, and harassment are serious problems in Arizona schools
Biased language was frequently heard in Arizona schools
- Less than half (46%) of students surveyed reported feeling very safe at school, while 44% reported bullying, name calling and harassment to be serious problems in their school.
- A majority of students reported that people at their school were harassed or bullied at least sometimes because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation (67%), their looks or body size (67%) or because of how they expressed their gender (63%).
Incidents of harassment and assault were often not reported nor acted upon
- Sexist remarks and negative remarks about a person’s gender expression, such as a boy acting “too feminine,” were frequently heard in Arizona schools. Three-quarters (74%) of students reported hearing sexist remarks and over half (57%) heard negative remarks about gender expression from other students.
- A majority of Arizona students reported hearing homophobic remarks, such as “that’s so gay” (80%) or derogatory terms such as “faggot” or “dyke” (72%), from students in their school.
- Intervention by school authorities when hearing biased language from students was not as common as should be expected. Only a third of Arizona students reported that teachers or other school staff frequently intervened when hearing sexist or racist remarks and less than a quarter (21%) frequently intervened when homophobic remarks were made.
Comprehensive policies in Arizona schools are lacking
- Among Arizona students who experienced harassment or assault in school, the
majority (57%) said that they never reported the incident(s) to a teacher, principal or other school staff person. Of the students who did not report the incident to school authorities, about a quarter (24%) said that they did not report it because they felt that nothing would be done to address the situation.
- Only half (52%) of Arizona students reported that they were protected by a comprehensive anti-harassment policy that specifically mentioned sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
- Having a comprehensive anti-harassment policy in place makes a difference. Students from schools without a comprehensive anti-harassment policy were more likely than students from schools with such policies to report verbal harassment. For example, students from schools without comprehensive policies were two times as likely to report being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation and gender expression, and were 49% more likely to report harassment because of their looks or body size.
Of those surveyed, close to a tenth (9%) of students in Arizona identified as LGBT, which was higher than the 6% of students in the national sample.
“The results of this study indicate that there is a lot of work to be done in Arizona to ensure that all students can learn in a safe environment,” said Kevin Jennings, Founder and Executive Director of GLSEN. “State-level safe school legislation that provides for specific categories must be adopted in Arizona, and teachers and other school staff must go through appropriate training to assess and respond to incidents of verbal or physical harassment.”
Student interviews were conducted online by a nationally representative sample of 3,450 public and private/parochial students ages 13 to 18. Within this sample, an oversample of students was drawn from Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Interviews averaged 15 minutes and were conducted between December 15 and December 20, 2004. Sample was drawn from the Harris Poll Online (HPOL) multimillion member online panel of cooperative respondents from over one hundred countries.
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). Demographic weights were based on U.S. Census data obtained via the March 2004 Current Population Survey (CPS). For the national survey, a post weight was applied to the student data to adjust for the twelve state oversampling so that the regional distribution reflects the nation as a whole. State-specific data, including that which is presented in this report, does not reflect this postweight.
GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all 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 our educator resources, research, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit