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Research shows unsafe school environments for many LGBT students in California

NEW YORK -- California middle and high schools are hostile places for many LGB) students, according to School Climate in California, a research snapshot of the experiences of LGBT students in California schools released today by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

The findings, based on California students who participated in GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey, show that LGBT students in California schools face high levels of harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender expression and regularly hear anti-gay slurs from students and staff.

The research snapshot also shows that while most students could identify at least one supportive educator, very few had access to any LGBT-inclusive resources or curriculum at school. More than a decade of findings from the GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey have shown consistently that school-based supports – such as anti-bullying/harassment policies, supportive staff, LGBT-inclusive curricular resources, and Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs (GSAs) – can positively affect LGBT students’ school experiences.

“While we have seen some progress nationally in the 14 years since we started our National School Climate Survey, much work remains to ensure that all California schools are safe and affirming environments for LGBT students,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “We look forward to working with our California Chapter partners to ensure that every LGBT student has equal access to a quality education.”

Research highlights from School Climate in California:

- Nearly 9 in 10 LGBT students (89%) regularly heard homophobic remarks (e.g., “fag” or “dyke”).

- 37% of LGBT students were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) because of their sexual orientation.

- 17% of LGBT students were physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) because of their sexual orientation.

- Only 2 in 10 (22%) were taught positive representations of LGBT people, history, and events.

- Only 11% attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy.

About the GLSEN Chapters in California

GLSEN has three chapters in California, located in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego. GLSEN’s chapters in California constitute three of the 37 accredited local GLSEN Chapters around the country. GLSEN Chapters, with the support and guidance of the national office, work to bring GLSEN's programs, resources and support to their specific communities on a local level.

About the National School Climate Survey

GLSEN's biennial National School Climate Survey, first conducted by GLSEN in 1999, remains the only study to consistently document the school experiences of LGBT students nationwide. The 2011 survey includes responses from 8,584 students between the ages of 13 and 20. Students were from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and from 3,224 unique school districts. Data collection was conducted through national and community-based organizations and targeted online advertising on the social networking site Facebook. A total of 992 respondents were attending schools in California, and the reported results for California have a margin of error of +/-3%.


GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community.