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LGBTQ progress in US schools is slowing for the first time in years, report says

LGBTQ progress in US schools is slowing for the first time in years, report says

A school classroom

A new report from GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) reveals schools in the United States are slowing on LGBTQ progress and safety for the first time in years.

Today they released their 2017 National School Climate Survey, looking at experiences of LGBTQ students, as well as what resources schools provide.

GLSEN spoke to 23,001 students between the ages of 13 and 21 from April to August 2017 for the survey. A majority (67.5%) were white and most of the respondents were in grades 9-11.

Stilted progress

In their report, GLSEN did not see ‘the same progress in reducing levels of victimization experienced by LGBTQ youth, or increased access to some key school supports’, as they found in previous years.

Over the last three surveys — in 2013, 2015, and 2017 — there was no decrease in anti-LGBTQ remarks, harassment, or assault between 2015 and 2017. Still, the numbers are still overall lower than they were in 2013.

Some forms of discrimination have increased, however, especially for transgender students.

From 2013, there has been an increase in reported negative remarks about gender expressions and trans students. More students also reported victimization to teachers last year.

Experiences at school

6 in 10 LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school due to their sexuality, and 75.4% reported avoiding school events because they feel unsafe and/or uncomfortable.

A large majority (87.3%) also said they’ve experienced harassment or assault based on their sexuality or gender identity. Almost 3 in 10 reported because physically harassed in the past year due to their sexuality. More than half of all LGBTQ students (57.3%) also reported being sexually assaulted in the past year.

Some (18.2%) have also been prohibited from pursuing LGBTQ-related topics for school assignments.

A majority of the respondents (53.3%) said their school had a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or something similar. Students at these schools reported hearing and experiencing less discrimination.

Most schools, though, are failing at being inclusive in education, particularly history and sex ed.


There are tangible consequences for LGBTQ students in unsafe environments.

Students who faced discrimination for their sexuality reported missing school more than their peers (63.3% to 23.1%) and they also had lower grade point averages. They also reported being more likely to receiving disciplinary actions (54.1% to 30.3%) and higher levels of depression.

These trends remained the same for students who reported experiencing discrimination for their gender identity.

42.2% of LGBTQ students said they considered dropping out of school due to harassment.

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