New survey: Fl middle and HS schools “not safe” for most LGBTQ students

Most Florida middle and high school students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) have experienced everything from homophobic remarks to harassment, discrimination and hostile environments at school.

Those are some of the findings from the New York-based GLSEN education organization that focuses on student safety.

The group conducted the tenth National School Climate Survey, a biennial survey of the experiences of LGBTQ kids in middle and high schools, and produced data snapshots for each state.

Florida’s data is troubling.

For example, the vast majority of Florida’s LGBTQ students regularly hear anti-LGBTQ remarks, even from school staffers.

Most LGBTQ students in Florida also experience verbal and physical harassment and/or physical assault, according to the data.

In addition, those students also encounter discriminatory policies or practices, such as being unable to use the school bathroom aligned with their gender, dress in LGBTQ-supportive clothing, or attend a school dance with a same-gender date.

The data sheet provides recommendations for school leaders, including putting in place supportive school policies and providing training for school staff on LGBTQ issues.

“These actions can move us toward a future in which all students in Florida will have the opportunity to learn and succeed in school, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” according to the survey findings.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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