2012 IN PTA State Resolution - MAKING SCHOOLS SAFE
WHEREAS, The Indiana PTA believes that all students should have access to an educational environment free from bullying and harassment.
WHEREAS, The vast majority of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Tran gendered (LGBT) students have reported being bullied because of their sexual orientation over the past year.
WHEREAS, The majority of LGBT students reported feeling unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation.
WHEREAS, LGBT students who reported frequent harassment were absent more often from school due to safety concerns; maintained a lower GPA; and had increased levels of depression, anxiety, and decreased levels of self esteem compared to their non-LGBT peers.
WHEREAS, That majority of LGBT teens who are harassed and bullied will not report the incidents. Compared to their non-LGBT peers they are less likely to report such incidents because they believe teachers and staff will not respond to their reports or because they would be unable to stop the situation.
WHEREAS, Severe bullying can lead to extreme reactions such as suicide. 30-40% of LGBT teens will attempt suicide. LGBT students are two to four times more likely to commit suicide then their non-LGBT peers.
WHEREAS, Having a harassment/bullying policy that specifically mentions sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is associated with more students feeling safe, lower levels of bullying and harassment related to sexual orientation, increased teacher/staff intervention, and greater reporting of incidents that did occur. However, the vast majority of schools do not have a comprehensive anti-bullying policy.
WHEREAS, The presence of supportive teachers and staff leads to fewer missed days of school, fewer reports of feeling unsafe, greater academic achievement, higher educational aspirations and a greater sense of school belonging. However, only half of LGBT students report having six or more supportive educators in their school.
WHEREAS, Having a Gay-Straight Alliance in schools lead to a more positive experience for LGBT students. LGBT students in these schools report hearing fewer homophobic remarks, less victimization because of sexual orientation and gender expression, less absenteeism because of safety concerns and a greater sense of belonging to the school community. However, over half of LGBT students do not have a Gay-Straight Alliance at school; therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the Indiana PTA will create and publish an article in its state wide publications about the problem of LGBT bullying and positive interventions to help prevent it; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the Indiana PTA will urge its local units and councils to educate parents, students, schools, and teachers and staff of the incidence, seriousness, and negative consequences of LGBT bullying and harassment; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the Indiana PTA will encourage local units and councils to review school policies in regard to bullying and to actively support changing those policies when necessary to help to protect LGBT youth; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the Indiana PTA will urge local school districts to specifically include sexual orientation or gender identity/expression in their harassment/bullying policies; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the Indiana PTA will urge local school districts to train teachers and staff to be supportive of all youth, including LGBT youth; and be it further
RESOLVED: That the Indiana PTA will urge local school districts to allow Gay-Straight Alliances to be formed within age-appropriate schools.
Summary: The Indiana PTA believes that school should be a safe environment for all students. However, the vast majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) students are bullied each year because of their sexual orientation. LGBT students are more likely to be bullied, feel unsafe in school, and miss school due to safety concerns then all other commonly studied catagories (disability, appearance, gender, race, etc.) combined.
Within this climate of hostility, one in five LGBT students reports being physically assaulted within the past year because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT students are two to four times more likely to commit suicide then their straight peers. There are several techniques that are proven to be successful in protecting these vulnerable students. These include: having an anti-bullying policy that specifically protects LGBT students; educating and identifying supportive teachers and staff for students to turn to; and having a Gay-Straight Alliance when age-appropriate.