It’s no secret: high school is no walk in the park. With the ever-changing student challenges, online social media pressures and educational standards, on top of going through puberty, young adults don’t have it easy. Teenagers who identify as LGBTQ unfortunately can have it much worse.
Startling LGBTQ Bullying Statistics
- Only 37% of LGBTQ youth report being happy, whereas 67% of non-LGBTQ youth report being happy.
- 80% of LGBTQ youth believe they will be happy eventually and things will get better, with nearly half believing they’ll need to move away from their current town to find happiness.
- Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts
- LGBTQ youth identify bullying as the second most important problem in their lives after non-accepting families
- LGBTQ youth who reported they’re frequently harassed in school had a lower GPA than students who were less often harassed
- One survey revealed that more than one-third of gay respondents had missed an entire day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe there.
- 60% of LGBTQ students did not report incidents to school staff. One third of those who did report an incident said staff did nothing in response.
The above are just some of the startling statistics that affect both LQBTQ teen’s mental health and their educational success.
The Tragic Loss of Nigel Shelby & Others
Nigel Shelby was just 15 years old when he took his own life this year due to extreme anti-LGBTQ bullying at his school. Nigel’s mother, Camika Shelby, described Nigel as “outgoing” and “always full of joy, full of light, he was always singing, always dancing.” She also said “I don’t want him to be remembered as a kid who was bullied for being gay and who took his own life. He was so much more than that. He was sunshine. He was just a great spirit to have around and it just breaks my heart because I feel like he had so much more love to give."
Nigel is not the only young LGBTQ teen to commit suicide. Unfortunately suicide is the second leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers, with the young LGBTQ community being at great risk due to bullying, social stigmas, family rejection, harassment, and abuse. The Human Rights Campaign tells us “Addressing these startling statistics starts with schools and communities alike working to foster safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ young people.” So, how can your school help young, at-risk, LQBTQ teens?
4 Ways Your K-12 School Can Address LGBTQ Bullying
There are several ways you can both address LGBTQ bullying instances, and also create a warm and safe environment for all students in your K-12 school.
- Get Your Staff on Board
Having a group of supportive and understanding educators and/or school administrators gives LGBTQ students people they can go to. Students should feel comfortable coming forward to talk about bullying instances and see you as an ally. We recommend brushing up on LGBTQ terms and creating an inclusive learning environment, which we have outlined in a recent blog post.
- Create a Gay-Straight Alliance School Club
Creating a GSA school club creates a safe space for LGBTQ students, and a supportive network of their student and faculty peers. Mental Health America says, “Students who attended schools with GSAs reported fewer homophobic remarks, more intervention from school personnel and a greater sense of connectedness.”
- Develop Strict Anti-Bullying Rules
We encourage implementing strict anti-bullying rules for all students, and making sure staff carry out required discipline for those who break bullying rules. According to Mental Health America, “Students reported that school staff intervened twice as often in schools with comprehensive bullying/harassment policies.”
- Implement Anonymous Anti-Bullying Platform
Some students feel safer when they’re able to report bullying and cyberbullying incidents anonymously. Putting a system in place that allows for anonymity, such as our Speak Up! Anti-Bullying Platform, your K-12 school could drastically reduce bullying. Here’s how it works:
- Your school receives a unique local phone number
- Students, parents and staff can leave voice or text messages anonymously
- A designated school administrator is notified of new messages and can respond instantly
- Messages are archived indefinitely for easy access and online reporting
Interested in Speak Up? Download our brochure today!