Attending a school with an LGBT-inclusive curriculum is related to a less-hostile school experience for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth as well as increased feelings of belonging to their school, according to Teaching Respect: LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum and School Climate, a GLSEN Research Brief released today by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
When LGBT students are taught positive representations of LGBT people, history, and events they are half as likely to experience high levels of victimization because of their sexual orientation or gender expression and are less likely to miss school because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. Students in schools with an inclusive curriculum also feel a greater sense of belonging to their school compared to other students. Yet the vast majority (86.6%) of students are never taught anything about LGBT people, history, or events in their classes.
"Teaching Respect highlights how inclusive curriculum can positively affect students' experiences in school," said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. "We want every student in school to realize their full potential. By including LGBT people, history and events in school curriculum, educators ensure that all students feel welcome, safe and valued. GLSEN will continue to build on its leadership of providing educators with resources and support in order to ensure that LGBT students and their allies are able to succeed in school."
The research brief is based on data from the GLSEN 2009 National School Climate Survey, a biennial survey on the school experiences of LGBT students. More than 7,000 middle and high school students took part in the national survey.
In light of the recent passage of the FAIR Education Act in California, GLSEN today also released Implementing LGBT-Inclusive History-Social Science Curriculum in California, a companion piece to the research that provides practical information about how the state's content standards provide guidance for educators on crafting LGBT-inclusive lessons. The companion piece includes specific examples regarding how educators can find areas in the history-social science curriculum for inclusion of LGBT-relevant content and ensure that all identities are represented in age-appropriate lesson planning.
The companion piece is designed for California educators, but content found throughout the guide will be of relevance to educators across the country.
"Although we know that inclusive curriculum can have direct positive impact on students%92 academic performance and their personal well-being, many schools do not make this available for its students," said GLSEN Director of Education Dr. Robert McGarry. "GLSEN will continue to develop and offer resources for educators that address the needs of LGBT students in school."
GLSEN plans to release curricular guides in additional subject areas to assist educators in efforts to incorporate developmentally appropriate LGBT-related content into existing curriculum. A full suite of GLSEN curricular resources and information can be found at www.glsen.org/educator.
Key findings of Teaching Respect
LGBT students in schools with an inclusive curriculum are:
Half as likely to experience high levels of victimization because of sexual orientation (16.3% vs. 31.9%) or gender expression (16.0% vs. 30.4%).
Less likely to feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation (42.1% vs. 63.6%) or gender expression (28.1% vs. 41.4%).
About half as likely to miss school because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable (17.1% vs. 31.6%).
Connectedness to Teachers
More likely to feel comfortable talking to a teacher about LGBT-related issues (73.1% vs. 50.1%).
More likely to have talked to a teacher about LGBT issues (79.9% vs. 64.1%).
More likely to report that their classmates were accepting of LGBT people (61.2% vs. 37.3%).
Less likely to hear homophobic remarks (e.g., "that's so gay") and negative comments about someone%92s gender expression.
More likely to report that their peers usually intervene when hearing homophobic remarks (10.4% vs. 5.3%).