In collaboration with YouthTruth, the Gay, Lesbian and State Education Network (GLSEN) surveyed more than 1,300 students ages 13 to 18 and more than 1,000 teachers to collect data about instances of biased language and bullying based on race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, body size, gender, religion, ability, economic status and gender expression. GLSEN used the results to revamp their 2005 “From Teasing to Torment” report to provide an updated depiction of biased-based bullying today. The revised report shows today’s students are not bullying as much as they did 10 years ago, but there is still much improvement to be done.
The survey results showed that the most common types of biased remarks were referencing sexual orientation, gender and race. The least commonly heard remarks related to transgenderism and religion. The 2015 survey responses also reported lower incidents of all types of biased remarks than the results in 2005, except racism.
Students also reported that teachers used biased language. More than 25 percent of students reported hearing school staff make negative comments about students’ gender expression. Students also reported teachers commenting on students’ academic ability, homophobia, racism and transgenderism. And when this happened, there were lower-than-expected rates of intervention from teachers or other school staff.
Almost 75 percent of students said they experienced some type of peer victimization or bullying in the past school year, and that most of this was because of their personal characteristics. About 50 percent of students said they were bullied because of their body size, and almost 30 percent were harassed because of their actual or perceived race and ethnicity. In addition to bullying and biased remarks, students reported experiencing different types of peer victimization including rumors/lies spread around school, property damage, and sexual harassment.
Although there were some improvements from the 2005 survey, GLSEN recommended that schools offer both bullying intervention training and better professional development to help teachers understand the issues particular populations face in their schools. PublicSchoolWORKS’ “Discriminatory Harassment — Identification and Response for Educators” course defines eight types of peer harassment; explores how peer discrimination is different from bullying; defines how school employees should identify, respond to and intervene in instances of harassment; summarizes three legal requirements and considerations for school districts; and shares valuable resources from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for teachers to learn more.
To read the updated “From Teasing to Torment” report, click here.