School Practices to Foster LGBT-Supportive Climate: Associations with Adolescent Bullying Involvement
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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.
Research reported in this publication was supported by a National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Medical Care, Bureau of Health Professions, HRSA, DHHS (grant no. T32HP22239; PI: Borowsky), a Viking Children’s Fund Research Award (PI: Gower), and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award (grant no. UL1TR000114). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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.
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