New York, NY (PRWEB) February 20, 2013
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students can greatly benefit from participation in school-based athletics, but many of these students experience harassment, assault and discrimination that negatively impact their participation in middle and high school Physical Education (P.E.) and sports teams, according to a research brief released today by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
GLSEN's research brief, The Experiences of LGBT Students in School Athletics, is an in-depth look at the experiences of LGBT student athletes, using data from GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey. The survey included responses from 8,584 secondary school students between the ages of 13 and 20. Respondents were from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and from 3,224 unique school districts.
"GLSEN's groundbreaking research has delved into nearly every aspect of school life for LGBT youth, and our findings demonstrate the concrete benefits that school athletics can provide LGBT students," said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN's Executive Director. "We have also found critical gaps of safety and support that highlight the need for coaches, P.E. teachers and athletic directors to take action to ensure that school gymnasiums, playing fields and locker rooms are safe, inclusive and respectful places for all students."
Findings in this new research brief uncover 4 key concerns:
1. Physical Education classes were unsafe environments for many LGBT students.
2. LGBT students may be underrepresented on extracurricular sports teams.
3. Many LGBT students experienced discrimination and harassment in school sports.
4. LGBT student athletes may not be fully supported by school athletics staff and policies.
The fact that LGBT student athletes reported better academic and mental health outcomes than non-athletes, also discussed in the brief, exacerbates the concern that LGBT students are often excluded from these activities and their accompanying benefits. Among the supporting evidence:
Resources are available to educators, parents and student athletes interested in addressing LGBT issues in school-based athletics. In 2011, Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project was developed to assist K-12 schools with creating safe and respectful sports and physical education environments for LGBT students. GLSEN's Changing the Game offers a variety of strategies and resources for P.E. teachers and coaches to incorporate into school athletic programs.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit http://www.glsen.org.