Empirical Research

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 38, Issue 7, pp 976-988

First online:

Who, What, Where, When, and Why: Demographic and Ecological Factors Contributing to Hostile School Climate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth

  • Joseph G. KosciwAffiliated withGLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) Email author 
  • , Emily A. GreytakAffiliated withGLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
  • , Elizabeth M. DiazAffiliated withGLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)

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This study examines how locational (region and locale), community-level (school district poverty and adult educational attainment), and school district-level (district size and ratios of students to key school personnel) variables are related to indicators of hostile school climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. Indicators of hostile climate included frequency of homophobic remarks and victimization regarding sexual orientation and gender expression. We used data from a national survey of LGBT secondary school students (N = 5,420; 57.6% female; 65.5% White; mean age = 15.9). Results from regression analyses demonstrated that LGBT youth in rural communities and communities with lower adult educational attainment may face particularly hostile school climates. School district characteristics contributed little to the variation in LGBT youth’s experiences. Findings highlight the importance of considering the multiple contexts that LGBT youth inhabit, particularly as they pertain to educational experiences.


LGBT youth School climate Bullying and harassment Contextual factors