At the national conference for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays on Friday in Columbus, Ohio, the organization released results of a survey that asked its chapters what public schools in their areas are doing to protect and support gay students, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Violence against teenage gays and lesbians appears to have decreased in schools nationwide, but harassment remains a chronic problem. The issue has gained prominence as the age at which people typically acknowledge their homosexuality has dropped from 20 in 1978 to 13 in 1998, said Rich C. Savin-Williams, a professor of human development at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
The survey findings are a snapshot of how America's public schools are handling gay and lesbian safety issues, said David Tseng, executive director of PFLAG, which is based in Washington, D.C.
Of the organization's 473 chapters, 115 responded. Among the survey's key findings:
50% said schools in their area have nondiscrimination policies that cover gays and lesbians, but 44% of those said violations are not addressed appropriately and expediently;
54% said they have state laws that support safe schools;
33% said their schools have a gay-straight alliance chapter;
25% said their schools provide periodic training for teachers, counselors, and other school employees about sexual orientation and gender issues;
18% said their school curriculum addresses gay and lesbian issues.