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Study Shows Anti-Gay Prejudice Among Middle Schoolers

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday May 23, 2007
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A new study shows that anti-gay prejudice is rampant in America’s middle schools, making bias the norm, rather than the exception, and adding urgency to what has become recognized as a need to educate children about bullying and to enforce zero-tolerance anti-bullying policies.

The study, titled A Voice from the Middle, was released by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and Phi Delta Kappa International. The report reveals that 77 percent of middle schoolers believe that their classmates have a negative attitude toward people they think are gays or lesbians; 26 percent of middle schoolers went so far as to say that their classmates have a "very negative" attitude.

"This survey, like so many before it, illustrates the difficulties lesbian, gay and bisexual students experience in school," said Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. "GLSEN applauds NASSP and PDK for recognizing the need to assess young people’s attitudes toward lesbian, gay and bisexual students. A hostile school climate creates barriers to education. If we truly believe that every child deserves the right to a quality education, then we must act now to ensure that all students feel safe in school."

GLSEN is a national organization dedicated to providing safe schools for all students regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Another report, the Harris Interactive report titled From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, found that 47 percent of middle school students consider bullying and harassment a somewhat or very serious problem at school, compared to only 35 percent of high school students. The top three reasons students cited by students in the Harris report were bullying and harassment were physical appearance, actual and perceived sexual orientation, and how masculine, or feminine, students are perceived to act.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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