The Existing Climate of K-12 Classrooms
In the spring of 2009, 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hanged himself at home with an electrical cord. He had been actively involved in sports, scouting, and church. What led him to suicide was daily verbal and physical assaults centered around his perceived sexual orientation—even though Walker-Hoover was not gay (Kornegay 2009). His mother had made continual attempts to contact the school to ask them to intervene, but to no avail. Kornegay also describes a similar case of 17-year-old Eric Mohat, who shot himself in response to constant harassment at the hands of classmates. Like Walker-Hoover, Mohat did not consider himself gay. This corresponds with the findings of a 2005 study by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that the second-most-common cause of bullying in school is “perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender expression,” with appearance being the primary cause (National School Climate Survey 2005, p. 4). What is clear is that it is no longer acceptable to marginalize gay and lesbian issues within K-12 education. All students are potential victims of homophobic actions. Just being perceived as violating gender norms is enough to make one a target (Meyer 2009).
KeywordsSexual Orientation Sexual Minority Hate Crime Harris Interactive LGBTQ Community
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