Thursday October 19th was Spirit Day. Spearheaded by GLAAD, it is the largest anti-bullying campaign in the world and we are glad to participate. For those who may not be familiar, Spirit Day gives folks an opportunity to speak out against LGBTQ bullying and to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ youth.
You may ask why such a day is necessary. It is because LGBTQ and Gender Non Conforming youth face higher rates of bullying and harassment. Look no further than statistics from GLSEN’s 2015 School Climate Survey –
• 57.6% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 43.3% because of their gender expression.
• 31.8% of LGBTQ students missed at least one entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, and a tenth (10.0%) missed four or more days in the past month.
• Over a third avoided gender-segregated spaces in school because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable (bathrooms: 39.4%; locker rooms: 37.9%).
• Most reported avoiding school functions and extracurricular activities (71.5% and 65.7%, respectively) because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
• The vast majority of LGBTQ students (85.2%) experienced verbal harassment (e.g., called names or threatened) at school based on a personal characteristic, most commonly sexual orientation (70.8% of LGBTQ students) and gender expression (54.5%).
• 27.0% of LGBTQ students were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 20.3% because of their gender expression.
• 13.0% of LGBTQ students were physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, injured with a weapon) in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 9.4% because of their gender expression.
• 48.6% of LGBTQ students experienced electronic harassment in the past year (via text messages or postings on Facebook), often known as cyberbullying.
• 59.6% of LGBTQ students were sexually harassed (e.g., unwanted touching or sexual remarks) in the past year at school.
• 57.6% of LGBTQ students who were harassed or assaulted in school did not report the incident to school staff, most commonly because they doubted that effective intervention would occur or the situation could become worse if reported.
• 63.5% of the students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response or told the student to ignore it.
• Almost all of LGBTQ students (98.1%) students heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) at school; 67.4% heard these remarks frequently or often, and 93.4% reported that they felt distressed because of this language.
• 95.8% of LGBTQ students heard other types of homophobic remarks (e.g., “dyke” or “faggot”); 58.8% heard this type of language frequently or often. xvii
• 95.7% of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks about gender expression (not acting “masculine enough” or “feminine enough”); 62.9% heard these remarks frequently or often.
• 85.7% of LGBTQ students heard negative remarks specifically about transgender people, like “tranny” or “he/she;” 40.5% heard them frequently or often.
• 56.2% of students reported hearing homophobic remarks from their teachers or other school staff, and 63.5% of students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from teachers or other school staff. Discriminatory School Policies and Practices
• 22.2% of students had been prevented from wearing clothes considered inappropriate based on their legal sex.
• 16.7% of students were prohibited from discussing or writing about LGBT topics in school assignments, and 16.3% were prohibited from doing so in school extracurricular activities.
• 15.6% of students were prevented from attending a dance or function with someone of the same gender.
• 13.2% of students were prevented from wearing clothing or items supporting LGBT issues.
• 10.8% were prevented or discouraged from participating in school sports because they were LGBT.
• 3.5% of students reported being disciplined for simply identifying as LGBT.
• 50.9% of transgender students had been prevented from using their preferred name or pronoun (19.9% of LGBTQ students overall);
• 60.0% of transgender students had been required to use a bathroom or locker room of their legal sex (22.6% of students overall); and
• 71.2% of LGBTQ students reported that their schools engaged in some form of gendered practice in school activities. – 53.8% reported that their school had gender-specified honors at school activities, such as homecoming courts. – 36.3% reported that their school required gendered attire at school graduation, and 31.8% for school photographs.
Given the reality of anti-LGBTQ bias and harassment, RAPP Peer Leaders distributed “Positive Space” placards for teachers, counselors, and administrators to display in their offices. It is such a simple, yet powerful, symbol that this campus is truly “No Place For Hate.”