press enter to search

Most US LGBT+ students face homophobic or transphobic abuse

Matthew Lavietes and Hugo Greenhalgh

Reuters

New York/London  /  Wed, October 14, 2020  /  04:31 pm
Most US LGBT+ students face homophobic or transphobic abuse

Almost all LGBT+ students in the United States have heard offensive remarks about their sexuality or gender identity with comments regularly bandied around playgrounds and campus cafeterias. (Shutterstock/Iana Alter)

Almost all LGBT+ students in the United States have heard offensive remarks about their sexuality or gender identity with comments such as "that's so gay" regularly bandied around playgrounds and campus cafeterias, researchers said on Tuesday.

Just under 99 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students aged between 13 and 21 reported hearing disparaging comments about their sexuality or gender identity, according to a new study published by GLSEN, a national LGBT+ education advocacy group.

Almost 92 percent said the remarks had made them feel "distressed", said the 2019 National School Climate Survey, which surveyed 16,700 LGBT+ students between April and August last year.

"At my school it's very taboo for teachers especially to talk about LGBT issues," said Aiden Cloud, a 17-year-old student at a small, conservative private school in Nashville, Tennessee.

"Even though there are a lot of queer students at my school - just as there are at any school - there's a very big lack of visibility. It feels very isolating," said Cloud, who identifies as genderqueer or neither exclusively male or female.

Discussing LGBT+ issues in schools has become a global cultural flashpoint, with some parents in Britain last year protesting against the inclusion of sexuality and gender identity in the curriculum.

The GLSEN report, which surveyed students in all 50 US states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and Guam, found homophobia was rife within educational establishments.

Read also: The Buddhist monk and make-up artist seeking LGBT+ equality in Japan

Almost 97 percent of respondents stated that they had heard the phrase "no homo" at school, while more than 95 percent reported hearing homophobic terms such as "dyke" and "faggot".

About 69 percent said they had experienced verbal harassment because of their sexual orientation, while just under 57 percent said they had also been called names or threatened because of their gender expression.

Eleven percent of LGBT+ students said they had been physically assaulted, or "punched, kicked (or) injured with a weapon" because of their sexuality, the report noted.

Just under 10 percent reported the same experiences due to their gender expression, it added.

"This is a very significant wake-up call about how the progress we've won is directly under attack," said Eliza Byard, the executive director of GLSEN, formerly the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

"Where we are now is so different from where we were 20, 25 years ago in terms of how better things are. On the other hand, where we are is clearly still unacceptable," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 

Your premium period will expire in 0 day(s)

close x
Subscribe to get unlimited access Get 50% off now