School Practices to Foster LGBT-Supportive Climate: Associations with Adolescent Bullying Involvement
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experience disproportionate rates of bullying compared to their heterosexual peers. Schools are well-positioned to address these disparities by creating supportive school climates for LGBT youth, but more research is needed to examine the variety of practices and professional development opportunities put in place to this end. The current study examines how school practices to create supportive LGBT student climate relate to student reports of bullying. Student-level data come from the 2013 Minnesota Student Survey, a state-wide survey of risk and protective factors. Ninth and eleventh grade students (N = 31,183) reported on frequency of physical and relational bullying victimization and perpetration and sexual orientation-based harassment. School administrators reported on six practices related to creating supportive LGBT school climate (N = 103 schools): having a point person for LGBT student issues, displaying sexual orientation-specific content, having a gay-straight alliance, discussing bullying based on sexual orientation, and providing professional development around LGBT inclusion and LGBT student issues. An index was created to indicate how many practices each school used (M = 2.45; SD = 1.76). Multilevel logistic regressions indicated that students attending schools with more supportive LGBT climates reported lower odds of relational bullying victimization, physical bullying perpetration, and sexual orientation-based harassment compared to students in schools with less supportive LGBT climates. Sexual orientation did not moderate these relations, indicating that LGBT-supportive practices may be protective for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation. Findings support school-wide efforts to create supportive climates for LGBQ youth as part of a larger bullying prevention strategy.
KeywordsLesbian, gay, bisexual youth School climate Bullying School practices
Minnesota Student Survey data were provided by public school students in Minnesota via local public school districts and are managed by the Minnesota Student Survey Interagency Team.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Review Board at the University of Minnesota, which determined that this study was exempt from review, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Because the Minnesota Student Survey data were provided anonymously by the Minnesota Interagency Team for this secondary data analysis, formal consent was not required.
- Bucchianeri, M. M., Gower, A. L., McMorris, B. J., & Eisenberg, M. E. (2016). Youth experiences with multiple types of prejudice-based harassment. Journal of Adolescence, 51, 68–75.Google Scholar
- California Department of Education (Safe and Healthy Kids Program Office) and West Ed (Health and Human Development Department) (2015). California healthy kids survey. Retrieved from. http://chks.wested.org.
- Eisenberg, M. E., Gower, A. L., McMorris, B. J., & Bucchianeri, M. (2015). Vulnerable bullies: Perpetration of peer harassment among youths across sexual orientation, weight, and disability status. American Journal of Public Health, 105, 1784–1791. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302704.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (n.d.). GLSEN safe space kit: be an ALLY to LGBTQ Youth! Available at: https://www.glsen.org/safespace Accessed 2 Feb 2017.
- Gloppen, K. M., Gower, A. L., McMorris, B. J., & Eisenberg, M. E. (in press). Associations between peer harassment and school risk and protection profiles. Journal of School Health. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12557.
- Goodenow, C., Watson, R. J., Adjei, J., Homma, Y., & Saewyc, E. (2016). Sexual orientation trends and disparities in school bullying and violence-related experiences, 1993-2013. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 3, 386–396. https://doi.org/10.1037/sqd0000188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- GroundSpark. (n.d.) Respect for all project. Available at: http://groundspark.org/respect-for-all Accessed 2 Feb 2017.
- Human Rights Campaign (n.d.) Welcoming schools: Creating safe and welcoming schools for all children and families. Available at: http://www.welcomingschools.org/ Accessed Accessed 2 Feb 2017.
- Institute of Medicine. (2011) The health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: Building a foundation for better understanding. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Konishi, C., Saewyc, E., Homma, Y., & Poon, C. (2013). Population-level evaluation of school-based interventions to prevent problem substance use among gay, lesbian and bisexual adolescents in Canada. Preventive Medicine, 57, 929–933. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.06.031.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Giga, N. M., Villenas, C., & Danischewski, D. J. (2016). The 2015 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.Google Scholar
- National Education Association (n.d.). Safe schools for everyone: Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. Available at: http://www.nea.org/tools/30420.htm Accessed 9 Feb 2017.
- National School Climate Council, 2007. The school climate challenge: Narrowing the gap between school climate research and school climate policy, practice guidelines, and teacher education policy. Retrieved from: http://www.schoolclimate.org/climate/documents/school-climate-challenge.pdf.
- Porta, C., Singer, E., Mehus, C. J., Gower, A. L., Saewyc, E., Fredkove, W., & Eisenberg, M. E. (2017). LGBTQ youth’s views on gay-straight alliances: Building community, providing gateways, and representing safety and support. Journal of School Health, 87, 489–497. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12517.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Poteat, V. P. (2008). Contextual and moderating effects of the peer group climate on use of homophobic epithets. School Psychology Review, 37, 188–201.Google Scholar
- Poteat, V. P., Sinclair, K. O., DiGiovanni, C. D., Koenig, B. W., & Russell, S. T. (2013). Gay-straight alliances are associated with student health: A multischool comparison of LGBTQ and heterosexual youth. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23, 319–330. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2012.00832.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Russell, S. T., Kosciw, J., Horn, S., & Saewyc, E. (2010). Safe schools policy for LGBTQ students. Social Policy Report, 24, 3–17.Google Scholar
- Russell, S. T., Ryan, C., Toomey, R. B., Diaz, R. M., & Sanchez, J. (2011). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescent school victimization: Implications for young adult health and adjustment. Journal of School Health, 81, 223–230. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1746-1561.2011.00583.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Southern Poverty Law Center (2017). Teaching tolerance: Best practices: Creating an LGBT-inclusive school climate. Available at: http://www.tolerance.org/lgbt-best-practices Accessed 2 Feb 2017.
- Srabstein, J. C., & Merrick, J. (2013). Bullying: A public health concern. New York: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar