GLSEN, a group that works to promote safety in schools for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students, says its annual survey shows Arkansas schools are unsafe for such students.
Nationally, the report says progress for LGBTQ children has slowed, the report said. The survey has been done for 20 years. This year’s survey reached 23,000 students aged 13 to 21, with the largest number in high school grades. The full report is here.
Based on Arkansas responses, the group said the majority of LGBTQ students in Arkansas face hostile environments and attend schools without resources to help them.
The vast majority of LGBTQ students in Arkansas regularly heard anti-LGBTQ remarks.
87% of LGBTQ students reported regularly hearing homophobic remarks in school, and 77% reported regularly hearing negative remarks about transgender people.
Many students also regularly heard school staff make homophobic remarks (36%) and many regularly heard school staff make negative remarks about someone’s gender expression (46%).
Most LGBTQ students in Arkansas experienced bias-based victimization at school.
79% of LGBTQ students experienced verbal harassment at school based on sexual orientation, and 56% experienced verbal harassment at school based on gender expression.
Most LGBTQ students never reported incidents of school victimization to school staff (61%) and only 25% of those who reported incidents said it resulted in effective staff intervention.
LGBTQ students reported that they also experienced victimization at school based on disability (28%), race/ethnicity (24%), and religion (44%).
Most LGBTQ students in Arkansas reported discriminatory policies and/or practices at their school.
Nearly three-quarters of students (73%) experienced at least one form of anti-LGBTQ discrimination at school during the past year.
Nearly half of LGBTQ students (48%) in Arkansas were disciplined for public displays of affection (PDA) that did not result in similar action for non-LGBTQ students.
Over 2 in 3 transgender students (67%) were unable to use the school restroom aligned with their gender, and 2 in 3 transgender students (65%) were prevented from using their chosen name or pronouns in school.
Some LGBTQ students reported being unable to wear LGBTQ-supportive apparel (22%), being unable to form a GSA (20%), and being unable to bring a same-gender date to a school dance (21%).
Most LGBTQ students in Arkansas did not have access to in-school resources and supports.
Only 4% of LGBTQ students attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy that included specific protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
Only 2% reported that their school had a policy or official guidelines to support transgender or gender nonconforming students.
Fewer than 1 in 10 (8%) were taught an inclusive curriculum that had positive representations of LGBTQ people, history, or events.
Only 2% reported receiving LGBTQ-inclusive sex education at school.
21% of students reported having a GSA or similar supportive club in their school.
This would be greeted as good news by many in the Arkansas legislature. “Religious” lobby groups fought anti-bullying legislation precisely because it might give comfort to students in sexual minorities. State law provides protection for discrimination against LGBT people on the pretext of “religious” belief.