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School-Based Approaches to Bullying Prevention

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Guest post by Becca Mui, M.Ed. Education Manager at GLSEN

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a perfect time to think about anti-bullying practices in schools. As a former school teacher, I remember how important the beginning of the year can be to setting up your classroom community. Now, in my role at GLSEN as the Education Manager, I get emails and messages every day from educators across the country asking how to support their students and address bullying and harassment.

Many of our supports are developed from our research on school climate. Our 2015 National School Climate Survey reported on the school experiences of LGBTQ youth including the extent of the challenges that they face at school and the school-based resources that support their well-being. This report found that anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination negatively affected the educational outcomes of LGBTQ youth, as well as their mental health.

In addition, From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited, reports on the school experiences of all students to provide an in-depth look at the current landscape of bias and peer victimization across the nation. From this report we were able to determine that, compared to their non-LGBTQ peers, LGBTQ students are twice as likely to have missed school in the past month due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable.

It’s important that the adults in school systems take a proactive approach to bullying and harassment by setting up a culture of LGBTQ visibility and support. Based on the research, we recommend four major supports that schools can use to cultivate a safe and supportive environments:

Enumerated Policies
Anti-bullying policies that are comprehensive and specifically include protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression can help in addressing and preventing bullying and harassment. Check out GLSEN’s model policies for some examples. Read about the latest LGBTQ student rights and policies on The Leading Edge.

Supportive Educators
As GLSEN’s Education Manager, I’m constantly meeting and hearing about educators who are doing all they can to support their students. We are constantly teaching, in what we say and what we don’t say, in the people we include in our lessons and the stories we share. Having educators advocating for LGBTQ youth and amplifying their messages can take some of the burden off LGBTQ youth. Educators can use our Safe Space Kit for information and tips for how to become an active ally to LGBTQ youth.

Student-Led Clubs
GSAs (gender-sexuality alliance type clubs) often advocate for improved school climate, educate the larger school community about LGBTQ issues, and support LGBTQ students and their allies. LGBTQ students need a safe space where they can be themselves and feel a sense of community. GSA type-clubs can be this space, and can also center youth activism to continue to make change in a school. You can find GSA activities and ideas on our website.

Inclusive Curriculum
In any subject, having LGBTQ visibility and inclusion in your lessons and being mindful of gender-neutral language can be a tremendous support. LGBTQ students in schools with an LGBTQ-Inclusive curriculum were less likely to miss school in the past month (18.6% compared to 35.6%, National School Climate Survey, 2015). Inclusive curriculum ensures that LGBTQ students see themselves reflected in the lessons they are being taught, and also creates opportunities for all students to gain a more complex and authentic understanding of the world around them. Overall, inclusive curriculum can contribute to a safer school climate.

Implementing these four supports in K-12 schools can help to address and prevent bullying and harassment and work towards cultivating a school environment where all students feel welcome and ready to learn.

RESOURCES

ThinkB4YouSpeak Guide for Educators of Grades 6-12 - provided by GLSEN
“That’s so gay.”- Research shows that slurs like this one are incredibly common in our schools. The crazy part? Most students don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings – they’re just using everyday words and phrases. But as we know, they may be just three little words, but their power to hurt is huge. In order to address this unintentional-but-all-too-frequent harassment, GLSEN has partnered with The Ad Council to create the first national multimedia PSA campaign to raise awareness among teens and adults about the power their words have to hurt. With knowledge and a simple call to think before speaking, we hope to cut down and prevent the use of homophobic language in our schools.

GLSEN Safe Space Kit
Designed to help you create a safe space for LGBTQ youth in schools, this Safe Space Kit is GLSEN’s Guide to Being an Ally to LGBTQ Students. The guide provides concrete strategies that will help you support LGBTQ students, educate about anti-LGBTQ bias and advocate for changes in your school.

Gender Inclusive Schools Tool Kit - provided by Gender Spectrum
Gender inclusive schools and classrooms welcoming all children and teens are within any school community’s reach with our education focused resources.

GLSEN National School Climate Survey
The GLSEN National School Climate Survey is our flagship report on the school experiences of LGBTQ youth in schools, including the extent of the challenges that they face at school and the school-based resources that support LGBTQ students’ well-being. The survey has consistently indicated that specific school-based supports are related to a safer and more inclusive school climate, including: supportive educators, LGBT-inclusive curriculum, comprehensive anti-bullying policies, and supportive student clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs).

Bullying Resources from the CDC
As bullying remains a serious problem among teens in the U.S., the CDC has developed a number of resources to help local education agencies better understand, prevent, and respond to bullying in their schools; some of which include: Understanding Bullying, Anti-Bullying Policies and Enumeration, Bullying and Absenteeism
 
Bullying and LGBT Youth
Visit www.Stopbullying.gov to learn more about:

  • Creating a Safe Environment for LGBT Youth
  •  Federal Civil Rights Laws and Sexual Orientation

 


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