Two Youth Suicides This Month Highlight Need for Anti-Bullying Programs

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Effective Anti-Bullying Programs Must Address Anti-LGBT Bullying

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Bullies learn from an early age that anti-LGBT language is one of the most effective ways to torment their peers. And far too often, schools fail to address the problem.

In the wake of two suicides in two weeks related to bullying and anti-gay bullying, GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is calling on schools and educators to evaluate their anti-bullying efforts and for federal officials to take action to address the bullying problem.

A leading anti-bullying education organization, GLSEN has worked for 15 years to make schools safer for all students. GLSEN offers programs and resources for all grade levels, including No Name-Calling Week for elementary and middle school students.

A complete list of GLSEN's anti-bullying resources and programs, as well as concrete steps schools can take to begin addressing bullying now, is available at http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/antibullying/index.html.

"These two tragedies highlight the need for schools to do more to make sure their hallways and classrooms are safe for all students," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "Education, community and federal leaders need to come together and find solutions to the endemic problem of bullying in America's schools. We owe it to our children to do everything we can to make sure they are safe in school."

The first suicide took place April 6 in Springfield, Mass., when a middle-schooler took his own life. The second took place last week in Georgia by an elementary school student. Both students endured anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying, even though neither student identified as gay.

"Anti-LGBT bullying affects all students, gay and straight alike," Byard said. "Bullies learn from an early age that anti-LGBT language is one of the most effective ways to torment their peers. And far too often, schools fail to address the problem."

Bullying is endemic in American schools, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified bullying as 'a serious public health issue' with effects that can last into adulthood.

More than a third of middle and high school students (37%) said that bullying, name-calling or harassment is a somewhat or very serious problem at their school, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive.

Bullying is even more severe in middle school. More than two-thirds of middle school students (69%) reported being assaulted or harassed in the previous year and only 41% said they felt very safe at school.

About GLSEN
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all 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. 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.

Media Contact:
Anthony Ramos
646-388-6575
aramos(at)glsen.org

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