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LGBTQ+ Gen Z youth don't feel safe at school: 'A place of dread rather than a place of learning'

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52 percent of LGBTQ+ Gen Z students have experienced bullying because of their identity, with 13 percent reporting that they were bullied by teachers or administrative staff.

LGBTQ+ students don't feel safe in their schools because of bullying and discrimination, some of which is coming from the staff meant to protect them.

Among queer Gen Z youth ages 16 to 27, 52 percent have experienced bullying because of their sexual orientation, with 13 percent reporting that they were bullied by teachers or administrative staff, according to a new survey from global children's charity Theirworld. Of those who were bullied, 36 percent said that they did not report it, and of those who did report it, half said that staff and teachers responded poorly.

Because of this, 49 percent said that they do not feel accepted by teachers and administrators, and 38 percent don’t believe schools are safe environments for LGBTQ+ students.

One student, a Black woman from Ohio, described her school as “a place of dread rather than a place of learning,” saying that she was "often called derogatory names and the target of hurtful jokes, which made me feel isolated and unwelcome."

Students also reported alarming rates of violent experiences, with 64 percent reporting verbal abuse, 33 percent citing online abuse, 26 percent facing threats of violence, 12 percent reporting physical abuse, and 12 percent reporting being sexually assaulted. In addition, 25 percent said they had been purposely misgendered.

Because of this, 25 percent saying they feel personally unsafe in school, and 35 percent have missed class at some point because of bullying. One Hispanic pansexual woman from California described her experienced being "assaulted by males in the female locker room after gym in 7th grade."

"They were predominantly males who were dating females in my gym class. They thought I was trying to see their girlfriends naked," she said. "I just wanted to change and go to class.”

Justin van Fleet, President of Theirworld, said that “it is unacceptable that LGBTQ+ youth continue to face bullying and discrimination in schools — the very place where they should feel secure and safe."

To help combat these issues, Theirworld has launched a global task force on safe schools for LGBTQ+ youth. The task force will allow LGBTQ+ youth leaders and their allies to have a platform and network to advocate for more inclusive education policies in communities around the world.

“Schools must be inclusive environments where every child feels valued and respected," Fleet said.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.