Homophobia in Schools Report Finds It's Getting Better

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Despite Progress Anti-Gay Bullying Persists

Despite this progress, the survey found a majority of LGBT students are still faced with obstacles that affect their school performance and psychological well-being.

Nearly 82 percent said they had been harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, and nearly 64 percent said they felt unsafe. Almost 30 percent said they had skipped a day of school in the last month because of safety concerns.

Transgender students experienced more hostile school climates than their gay and lesbian peers -- 80 percent reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression.

A "considerable number" of students reported discriminatory policies or practices by school staff, most commonly related to dates at school dances and public display of affection.

Being "out" led to higher levels of victimization, according to the report, but higher levels of psychological well-being.

Since the 1990s, GLSEN has worked with school districts in every state to put safety and education programs in place.

"People go into teaching because they care about young people," GLSEN's Byard said. When we reach out to educators directly, they will act.

"Schools have seen that young people are suffering and the school is suffering," she said. "We can partner with school districts to put interventions in place. But we have definitely hit a turning point."

Even the White House has acknowledged the importance of school-based programs after hosting a conference on bullying this year. The Democratic Party platform also includes a pledge to "continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth."

Stein, who is active in state and national LGBT initiatives and hopes to study economics and politics in college, said she, too, feels "definitely hopeful."

"I have noticed a shift even in the last couple of years," she said. "In the eighth and ninth grades, I was very depressed. My high school culture has shifted for me and has come to terms with my identity. Student attitudes have also changed. Now, they don't just tolerate me, but a majority accept me as I am."

Chase said even though she has "tons of friends," she still hears the words "dyke" and "faggot" daily at school. But more often than not, when she calls attention to their language, students respond, "I'm sorry I offended you. ... It was my mistake."

"They understand," she said.

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