One Equal World

Rural Areas Difficult for LGBT Teens

Posted on: December 16, 2012

According to a new study from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), LGBT teens don’t feel as secure and safe as those in urban areas. The report, titled “Strengths and Silences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students in Rural and Small Town Schools,” draws on information from over 2,300 LGBT students in rural areas of the United States and from the 2011 National School Climate Survey.

 

Here are some of the statistics for rural LGBT students from the survey:

 

  • 87% had been verbally harassed, 45% physically harassed, and 22% physically assaulted at school in the past year because of sexual orientation
  • 91% had heard “gay” used in a negative way, and 79% had heard homophobic remarks from classmates.
  • 13% said staff members intervened most or all the time when hearing homophobic remarks, and 11% said they intervened when hearing negative remarks related to gender expression.
  • 45% felt unsafe in locker rooms, 44% in bathrooms, and 37% in gym class.
  • 85% victimized rural LGBT students were planning on attending college versus 93% of their urban counterparts.
  • 11% said they had an LGBT inclusive curriculum, as compared to 20% of urban students.
  • 27% had access to a GSA, compared to 53% of urban students.
  • 28% said other students were accepting of LGBT students, versus 46% of urban students.

 

The sad fact of the matter is that rural LGBT students feel less safe than LGBT students in urban and suburban areas, especially in the South and Midwest United States. They also reported more discriminatory policies against LGBT people at their schools and were far less comfortable discussing LGBT issues with school staff.

 

“These students are frequently the most isolated—both physically and in terms of access to critical resources and support—and our findings require us to both honor their resilience and respond to their needs,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN.

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