Sunday’s Chronicle included a conversation with University of Houston school psychology professor G. Thomas Schanding, Ph.D. about the harassment gay children face and his theory about whether the most vulnerable targets are youngsters — gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, questioning or straight — who don’t conform to their gender roles.
Read the published Q&A here, which also includes resources for LGBTQ students who are dealing with bullies. He also references the GLSEN report, which is the 2009 National School Climate Survey released in September by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
Here’s the rest of the interview:
Q: Have more gay celebrities and influential people coming out in the last decade helped instill more esteem in LGBT youth? A: It might have, but according to the GLSEN report, the experiences of harassment and assault really haven’t declined over the past 10 years. I think that’s what the It Gets Better campaign is all about — those people who are most visible and who are gay or lesbian or transgender let these kids know that there is a life after middle school and after high school and you need to be there so that you get to experience all of the good things that come later on.
Q: What programs within the schools are addressing this issue? A: One of the things that came out of the GLSEN report that does seem to be really important is the inclusion of gay-straight alliances — student support groups within schools that can provide information to teachers about what issues are important to gay students, how to make those students feel like they’re more included and feel more comfortable at school.
Q: How does this harassment affect academic achievement? A: The GLSEN survey shows that the gay and lesbian kids who are victimized or bullied at school sometimes report that they don’t stay in class, they skip school, they skip a class period and they stay at home. This study this year showed that because of that, they received almost half a grade lower in their grade point averages. That, to me, shows that these kids are less likely to say that they want to go to college, at times, and then they’re not as competitive for scholarships.
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