Research

Our staff have explored LGBTQ issues in education and the impact of bullying on school climate for nearly 20 years.

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Our Commitment to Research

We all want to help schools become safe, respectful communities, but how do we know where to start? What are the challenges that students and educators face? What works best to address those challenges?

GLSEN has been conducting research and evaluation on LGBTQ issues in K-12 education since 1999. Our research staff members are nationally recognized experts, trusted by safe schools advocates and researchers alike to provide the facts about our national school climate. Our research has helped to:

  • Motivate legislators to act on the challenges that LGBTQ students face in their home states.
  • Alert principals and other administrators why Gender and Sexuality Alliances, enumerated policies and other resources are so important to creating safe and respectful school communities.
  • Educate students and school staff about LGBTQ student experiences of bullying and harassment.
  • Identify and promote best practices and resources for creating safe and affirming schools.
  • Develop evidence for LGBTQ-affirming action through research in partnership with other organizations internationally

Our research and resources can empower you to make your community’s schools safer, more respectful, and more inclusive for LGBTQ youth.

Please review our other research and resources below.

Reports and Briefs

Our national reports examine many aspects of school safety, including LGBTQ student discipline, elementary school students’ and teachers’ experiences, and interactions between LGBTQ parents and school staff. Our state and local reports examine the experiences of LGBTQ students in selected areas, using available data from reports such as the National School Climate Survey. The Research Institute also conducts evaluations to assess the effectiveness of GLSEN programs and recommended resources. Learn more about our research reports and briefs.

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The National School Climate Survey

20 years of data show that school supports and resources can make a difference for LGBTQ youth.

The GLSEN 2019 National School Climate Survey report includes information on LGBTQ middle and high school students’ experiences, including:

  • Hearing biased language, from both students and educators
  • Experiences of harassment and assault
  • Anti-LGBTQ discrimination
  • Effects of a hostile school climate on educational outcomes and psychological well-being
  • The availability and utility of supportive school resources

The survey has consistently indicated that specific school-based resources are related to a safer and more inclusive school climate, including: 

  • Supportive educators
  • LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum
  • Inclusive and supportive policies
  • Supportive student clubs, such as Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs).

As the 11th installment of GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey, this report also includes greater insight into how LGBTQ student experiences have changed over the past 20 years, including: 

  • The emergence of LGBTQ identity terms over time
  • Discrimination among transgender students over time
  • Racist events among LGBTQ students of color over time
  • LGBTQ immigrant students' feelings of safety regarding citizenship status over time

The report also includes, for the first time, greater insights into LGBTQ students' experiences with GSAs, including GSA activities and why some LGBTQ students choose not to attend.

If you have further questions, please contact the GLSEN Research Institute at GLSENresearch@glsen.org 

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Cover of The 2019 National School Climate Survey research report. The cover photo features three students marching in the 2019 World Pride parade, with their fists in the air. The student on the right is wearing a transgender pride flag, and the center student is wearing a jacket with a rainbow on the back and a Keith Haring illustration of a brown fist in a broken handcuff below the word Resist! in rainbow letters.
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Two high school students sit with their legs stretched out against a bank of yellow lockers with post-it notes with names stuck to them. The students are studying their textbooks. One looks over at something on the other's book.

Local School Climate Survey

Conduct Your Own Local School Climate Survey

GLSEN has historically played an important role in obtaining national and state data on school climate. And we look for ways to use our expertise to assist in local data collection efforts. GLSEN’s Local School Climate Survey, which previously existed as a PDF on our website, is now available in a friendly and easy-to-use online format to help you learn about your local area.

GLSEN’s Local School Climate Survey is a free online survey tool for students, educators and other advocates to use to collect data on students’ experiences in their local school communities, such as, bullying, harassment, and bias based on gender, disability, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender expression, body type and/or religion. Results from your survey can be used to advocate for safer and more inclusive programs and policies in your local schools and communities. It’s easy to get started - check out our online Local School Climate Survey tool today!

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A smiling educator in front of a classroom calls on a student. Six students at two tables all raise their hands.

State Snapshots

State Snapshots use data from GLSEN's 2017 National School Climate Survey to examine the school experiences of LGBTQ middle and high school students, including hearing biased language, experiences of victimization, incidents of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and access to resources and supports at school.

Snapshots are available for 41 states and Puerto Rico, each linked at the bottom of this page. This state-specific data allows advocates, educators, administrators, and policymakers, among others, to evaluate school climate in their individual state, and to advocate for safer and more inclusive school environments for LGBTQ students across the nation, including LGBTQ-supportive school policies, LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, and more.

State Snapshots feature state-level data drawn from GLSEN’s biennial National School Climate Survey. Begun in 1999, the survey is the only survey of its kind, documenting the experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools, including the extent of the challenges that they face and their access to the school-based resources that support their educational success and well-being. 

Our International Work

GLSEN has long been a leader in the movement to make schools safer and more inclusive for LGBT students in the US, and we are committed to supporting a similar mission worldwide. GLSEN staff are recognized as international champions and pioneers of LGBT issues in education and have spoken on their importance across the globe. Our current efforts include:

  • Creating an international network of scholars and advocates to make the world safer for LGBT youth.
  • Partnering with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote awareness of gender- and sexuality-based bullying worldwide.
  • Continuing to support and provide technical expertise to other NGOs to develop research capacity to foster safe schools movements around the globe, including Canada, China, Ireland, Israel, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
  • Comparing the educational experiences of LGBT youth around the world.
     

Our Newest Research

Type
School Climate Survey
Research, Reports, and Briefs
Identity Topic
Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQ Students
Black LGBTQ Students
Indigenous LGBTQ Students
Latinx LGBTQ Students
Gender Non Conforming ​​​​​​​(GNC) Student
Transgender Students
LGBTQ Students with ​​​​​​​Disabilities
Nonbinary Students
Students of Color
Twenty years of data about LGBTQ student experiences show that continued investment in supports and resources can make schools safer and more affirming for LGBTQ youth.
Type
Research, Reports, and Briefs
Issue
Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination
Inclusive Curriculum
Educators who support LGBTQ students may face hostile school climates. This brief reveals the similarities and differences between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQteachers’ experiences of engaging in LGBTQ-inclusive and supportive teaching.
Type
Research, Reports, and Briefs
Issue
Harassment, Bullying, and Discrimination
Identity Topic
Students of Color
Indigenous LGBTQ Students
Native American, American Indian, and Alaska Native LGBTQ and two-spirit students experience hostile school climates, but school resources can make a difference.