Yesterday I appeared in a segment by NBC4 Columbus about a recent study showing 1 in 4 students in Ohio schools say they’ve been physically abused for being lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender, which is much higher than national statistics.
The study the segment refers to is the National School Climate Survey researched by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (known to most as GLSEN). It was released a couple months ago, but after video of a beating of a gay student in Chillicothe surfaced online, the survey started getting more attention locally.
As I mentioned on NBC4, I’m not surprised at all by the results of the survey in Ohio. Because of my work with the It Gets Better Project, I talk to students and parents all the time who relay stories of torture faced by gay high school and middle schools students in small towns in Ohio. Just last month, after I spoke at a Coming Out Day event, a mother approached me in tears telling me about her son and the struggles she faced with trying to get the school to even recognize that her 13-year-old son was being bullied because of his sexuality.
When a local principal publicly and proudly removes an alumni from the school’s Web site because their gay or a school’s first response to a viscous beating of a gay student is to punish the bully with just a simple 3-day suspension, it shows the bleak reality behind the statistics.
We can no longer stand idly by and continue to watch or simply talk about the anti-gay bullying epidemic in this country. We have to start making it better now for our gay youth. It’s no longer just an issue of conservative versus liberal belief, it’s become an issue of safety. And all youth have the right to be safe at school. (Check out my new organization, the Make It Better Foundation, to see how you can help!)
Be sure to check out the full results from the School Climate in Ohio portion of GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey. Also here’s a story in Gay People’s Chronicle that takes a deeper look at the statistics in Ohio.
Big thanks to NBC4 reporter Nadia Bashir for making sure this story was aired!