Academic Performance and College Aspirations Suffer When Harassment Goes Unchecked

New York, NY – December 8, 2003 – The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, today announced the release of the 2003 National School Climate Survey. For the first time, the bi-annual study reports a direct relationship between in-school victimization, grade-point averages (GPAs) and the college aspirations of LGBT students. At the same time, more than 4 out of 5 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students report being verbally, sexually or physically harassed at school because of their sexual orientation.

“This year’s findings clearly demonstrate that despite modest measurable gains, violence, bias and harassment of LGBT students continues to be the rule, not the exception, in America’s schools,” said GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings. “This research reveals what must be inherent to so many educators and parents: harassment has a negative impact on LGBT students’ academic performance and college ambitions. To ignore these numbers is an irresponsible message to all students that any promise of equal access to education remains forged and fictitious.”

Key findings of the 2003 National School Climate Survey include:

· Unchecked harassment correlates with poor performance and diminished aspirations: LGBT youth who report significant verbal harassment are twice as likely to report they do not intend to go to college and their GPAs are significantly lower (2.9 vs. 3.3).

· Supportive teachers can make a difference: 24.1% of LGBT students who cannot identify supportive faculty report they have no intention of going to college. That figure drops to just 10.1% when LGBT students can identify supportive staff at their school.

· Policymakers have an opportunity to improve school climates: LGBT students who did not have (or did not know of) a policy protecting them from violence and harassment were nearly 40% more likely to skip school because they were simply too afraid to go.

· Harassment continues at unacceptable levels and is too often ignored: 84% of LGBT students report being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation. 82.9% of students report that faculty never or rarely intervene when present.

“These numbers are a wake-up call – and a direct challenge – to the 41 states that so far remain without policies that explicitly protect LGBT students. We know that such policies, when fully implemented, are having a positive impact,” continued Jennings. “GLSEN continues to lead efforts to institute and implement policies that work, promote successful in-school programs, and empower our nation’s educators with tools and knowledge that will lead to safe and effective classrooms for all students.”

GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey is the only national survey to document the experiences of LGBT students in America’s schools and has been conducted bi-annually since 1999. This year’s survey includes responses from 887 LGBT middle and high school students from 48 states and the District of Columbia. Key findings, the complete survey and additional information about methodology and demographics may be obtained by calling GLSEN’s Communications Department at 212-727-0135 or by visiting

GLSEN, or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSEN’s educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs or development initiatives, visit


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