I am writing to you today to share some troubling news about bullying in our schools but some good news too that shows that principals like you can and do make a difference.
A new national study from GLSEN – the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network – found that 8 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students experienced harassment in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation and nearly 2 out of 3 because of their gender expression.
I‘m sure you agree that any harassment is unacceptable, and that we have an obligation to ensure that all students are safe in school, especially when they face such pervasive harassment. The good news is that the report, called The 2011 National School Climate Survey, identified several school-based actions that lead to improved school climate and LGBT student well-being:
Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) or similar clubs;
Anti-bullying/harassment school policies and laws that include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other characteristics;
Supportive school staff; and
Curricula that are inclusive of LGBT-related topics.
In 2008 GLSEN partnered with the National Association of Secondary School Principals to study principals’ experiences with name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools. Among the many findings, the study highlighted the critical role that principals play in ensuring a positive learning environment for all students.
As our principal, I hope you’ll help make creating a safer and more affirming school for all students a priority this year.
Go to http://www.glsen.org/principals to learn how you can improve school climate for LGBT students in your own school and to join GLSEN’s School Leader Network.