As the school year begins in the US, the gay rights group Lambda Legal has published a set of instructions for bullied students.
‘For a lot of LGBTQ students, those perceived to be LGBTQ and the friends of LGBTQ students, bullying is a serious reality,’ the group writes in the introduction to the guidelines.
‘But that doesn’t’t mean it can’t be stopped. You have a legal right to be who you are and to be safe.’
The rules start by exhorting students not to be silent.
‘Talk to someone you can trust. Friends, parents, a brother or sister. Let people know.’
Writing down the incidents, from what happened to possible witnesses, is encouraged. Students are urged to take problem to principals first, not teachers or counselors.
‘Counselors and teachers aren’t always legally required to take action against bullying. The principal has more responsibility. Put your reports and complaints in writing, and keep copies of every document you send and receive.’
If none of this helps, Lambda Legal recommends talking to either the school board and police (if the threats are serious).
A 2011 study by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network showed a ‘significant decrease in victimization based on sexual orientation.’ However, there were trends that indicated why the instructions continue to be useful.
‘Results indicated that 8 out of 10 LGBT students (81.9%) experienced harassment at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, three fifths (63.5%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and nearly a third (29.8%) skipped a day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.’ the GLSEN report said.