LGBT students of colour in the US face unique and diverse challenges regarding victimisation at school, according to Shared Differences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students of Color in Our Nation’s Schools, a report released by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
The report documents the experiences of over 2,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) middle and high school students of colour (African American or Black, Latino/a, Asian or Pacific Islander, Native American, and multiracial).
“While research on the experiences of LGBT students has increased in recent years, few studies have examined the specific victimisation of students who identify as people of colour and LGBT,” said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard.
“This report provides alarming evidence that we must act now to ensure sure that America’s LGBT students of colour are safe in school.”
The report found that more than four out of five students, within each racial/ethnic group, reported verbal harassment in school because of sexual orientation.
About a quarter of African American/Black and Asian/Pacific Islander students had missed class or days of school in the past month because they felt unsafe.
Native American students experienced particularly high levels of victimisation because of their religion; more than half reporting the highest levels of verbal harassment (54%), and a quarter experiencing physical violence (26%).
The report also provides descriptions of the experiences of LGBT students of colour in their own words:
“You could very well on any day hear someone yelling across the hall, ‘fag,’ etc,” said a 10th grade Latino male student in the report.
“I’ve heard it before… It’s hurtful because it’s just not something that you say. And it’s just generally hurtful. And I know that I’ll just be walking in a hallway, and someone will just say under their breath with a group of friends, ‘fag’… and hearing things like that in my school – it kind of brings me down almost. It kind of negates any hope that I have for our school to be a better place.”
Less than half of students of colour who had been harassed or assaulted in school in the past year said that they had reported the incident to school staff. For those students who did report incidents to school staff, less than half believed that staff’s resulting response was effective.