Nearly 70% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school due to sexual orientation or gender identity: survey

Nearly seven in 10 LGBTQ students reported feeling unsafe at school in 2021 because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, according to new data released this week.

Researchers with GLSEN, a national organization that fights to end anti-LGBTQ discrimination in k-12 schools, found an increasingly more hostile environment for LGBTQ students in middle and high schools across the nation.

For its 2021 National School Climate Survey, the group spoke with 22,300 students between the ages of 13 and 21 and found that they’ve experienced an alarming incidence of discrimination — including verbal and physical harassment — from their peers.

Around 68% of LGBTQ students reported feeling unsafe because of their LGBTQ identity — 51% of them because of their sexual orientation, and 43% of them because of their gender expression, or the external appearance of a person’s gender identity.

The hostility, which causes students to feel unsafe or uncomfortable, has led to several detrimental changes in behavior: Nearly 8 in 10 students (78%) said they avoided extracurricular activities, 45% of them reported avoiding bathrooms in school and 32% of LGBTQ students said they missed at least one day of school in the past month.

Bullying and discrimination in the classroom “continue to create a chilling effect that threatens the wellbeing of gay and transgender youth across the country,” said Aaron Ridings, GLSEN deputy executive director for public policy and research.

He added that leaders in states across the country should “uphold basic civil and education rights” so educators have the freedom to teach, and all students have the ability to learn.