Gay students in the nation's public schools face a severe lack of support when it comes to gay-inclusive services, training, and policies, a recent report reveals. The gay advocacy group Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays released the National Schools Assessment on Thursday. Unlike other assessments that evaluate the school climate--that is, how safe or unsafe students feel--the PFLAG assessment evaluated the education system's response to the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students by measuring the existence and implementation of policies to protect GLBT students and resources to support them.
"Our findings help explain why so many people still hold on to damaging old fictions and profound misunderstandings about our GLBT family members and friends," said Ron Schlittler, PFLAG's executive director. "Misinformation goes unchallenged because accurate information is virtually banned in our schools."
While the assessment indicated a growing awareness of GLBT safe-schools issues, results also showed critical deficiencies in support of GLBT youths. Some important findings include:
(1) 95% of school counseling services had little or no gay, lesbian, or bisexual resources;
(2) 99% of school counseling services had little or no transgender resources;
(3) 70% had no training for educators or staff on how to stop GLBT bullying;
(4) 92% had no training for students on how to stop GLBT bullying;
(5) 84% had little or no resources for parents about GLBT issues;
(6) 59% did not include gay, lesbian, or bisexual students in their harassment or nondiscrimination policies; and
(7) 75% did not include gender identity or expression in their harassment or nondiscrimination policies.
Schlittler also commended students for their promotion of safe schools. "There are encouraging signs. Nearly 39% of respondents reported the existence of support groups for gay and straight students that address the needs of GLBT students. PFLAG regularly receives requests for help from students trying to start gay-straight alliances in their schools. Sadly, however, these students are often the only members of school communities pressing for avenues to acknowledge and address their needs."