NEW YORK, June 15, 2009 – New Jersey schools are unsafe places for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) youth, according to a research brief released today by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
Inside New Jersey Schools: The Experiences of LGBT Students a report based on findings from 157 New Jersey students who participated in GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey, shows that New Jersey LGBT students face extreme levels of harassment and assault, skip school at alarming rates because of feeling unsafe and perform more poorly in school when they are more frequently harassed.
“While New Jersey recently has shown a commitment to addressing the problem of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment, Inside New Jersey Schools shows just how much work still needs to be done to make sure LGBT students in New Jersey are safe in school,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “Passing a comprehensive anti-bullying law in 2002 and establishing a state commission on bullying in the past year were important steps. GLSEN and its New Jersey chapters are hopeful New Jersey will continue to address this pervasive problem.”
Nearly nine out of 10 (87%) New Jersey LGBT students experienced verbal harassment based on sexual orientation in the past year, 42% said they had been physically harassed and nearly a quarter (24%) said they had been physically assaulted.
GLSEN’s work in New Jersey is supported by its GLSEN Central New Jersey and GLSEN Northern New Jersey chapters.
99% of New Jersey LGBT students regularly (sometimes, often or frequently) heard the word “gay” used in a negative way in school, such as “that’s so gay.” 93% regularly heard homophobic remarks, such as “faggot” or “dyke,” from other students in school.
87% of LGBT students were verbally harassed, 42% were physically harassed and 24% were physically assaulted in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
67% of LGBT students were verbally harassed, 28% were physically harassed and 12% were physically assaulted because of their gender expression.
64% of LGBT students who were harassed or assaulted in school never reported it to school staff. Only 31% of students who did report incidents said that reporting resulted in effective intervention by school staff.
24% of LGBT students had skipped class at least once in the past month because they felt unsafe, and 30% had missed at least one entire day of school for this reason. Students who were more frequently verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation were three times more likely to miss days of school because they felt unsafe than students who were less frequently harassed (47% vs. 15%, respectively).
The grade point average of LGBT students who were more frequently verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation was significantly lower than the GPA of students who were less frequently harassed (2.7 vs. 3.1).
New Jersey is one of only 11 states, along with the District of Columbia, that has passed a law explicitly protecting students from bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, and yet only 11% of LGBT students reported that their school had this type of comprehensive anti-bullying policy.
About the National School Climate Survey
The National School Climate Survey is a biennial survey examining the experiences of LGBT middle and high school students in U.S. schools. The survey, which was first conducted in 1999 and is the only national survey of its kind, documents the anti-LGBT bias and behaviors that make schools unsafe for many of these youth. The full 2007 sample consisted of 6,209 LGBT secondary school students, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, between the ages of 13 and 21.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.