1. How many lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) students exist in today's schools?
According to a 2004 national poll commissioned by GLSEN, approximately 5% of America's high school students identify as lesbian or gay or roughly 3/4 million students nationwide. This percentage would translate to, on average, every classroom in America having at least one student who identifies as lesbian or gay and a majority of students in the classroom knowing at least one gay or lesbian person, whether it be a teacher, a classmate or a family member.
2. What is the average age of coming-out for LGBT youth?
"Coming out," or acknowledging one's identity as lesbian, gay or bisexual, is an on-going developmental process. Thus, academic researchers often find it useful to distinguish between different stages of "coming out." The age when one is first aware of having same-sex attraction is typically lower than the age when one identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Data from recent studies on LGB adolescents suggest that the age of first awareness may range from 8 to 11 years on average, and the age of identifying as LGB may range from 15 to 17 years on average. (Source: Savin-Williams, R. C. and Diamond, L. M. (2000) "Sexual identity trajectories among sexual-minority youths: Gender comparisons." Archives of Sexual Behavior, 29, 607-627.)
Since 1999, GLSEN has conducted the National School Climate Survey, a biennial survey of self-identified LGBT youth about their experiences in school. In these surveys, the average age of LGBT youth participating has been between 16 and 17 years old and the ages range from 12 to 20. The age at which these students first self-identified as LGBT would most likely be 16 or younger on average.
It is important to note that the average age of "coming out" is a bit elusive. In studies that are done with youth and young adults, the average age of coming out will be younger than if we did a study with a general cross-section of the general LGBT community given that some people do not "come out" until adulthood.
3. How bad is the bullying problem for LGBT students? What's the impact on LGBT youth?
Violence, bullying and harassment are the rule and not the exception in America's schools. According to GLSEN's 2003 National School Climate Survey,
4 out of 5 LGBT students hear homophobic remarks often in their schools.
39% of LGBT students report being verbally or physically assaulted, often with a weapon and transgender students reported physical harassment 30% more than students that identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
Nearly 1 out of 3 LGBT students skipped school in the past month because they were simply too afraid to go.
4. How many Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) are there in the United States?
More than 3,000 student clubs, commonly known as gay-straight alliances, are registered with GLSEN. This number does not serve as an exact number for how many exist. Many student groups work on LGBT issues but are not named GSAs, while other student clubs may exist without having the information to be in touch with GLSEN or choose not to register with us.
5. What is the effect of inclusive, anti-bullying policy on LGBT students?
According to our National School Climate Survey, students who did not have (or did not know of) a policy protecting them from violence and harassment were nearly 40% more likely to skip schools than those who did: 36.5% of LGBT students who said their school did not have a specific harassment policy skipped class in the last month because they felt unsafe, with that number dropping to 26.6% among LGBT students who know that there is some sort of harassment policy in place to protect them. Also, according to the data, students are more likely to report incidences of violence, bulling and harassment when a policy was in place.