Story at a glance
- Students and educators are participating in "No Name-Calling Week," addressing anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and bias-based bullying in schools.
- LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming students who are harassed for their identity are less likely to do well in school and more likely to face mental health struggles.
- This year's theme, "#SafeToBe," highlights the struggles of Black, brown and Indigenous LGBTQ+ youth who may be bullied for both their race and gender or sexuality.
While former First Lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” campaign couldn’t keep her husband from being kicked off Twitter, the anti-bullying campaign continues in schools across the country this week as LGBTQ+ advocates kick off “No Name-Calling Week.”
“When students feel safe and valued, they’re better able to focus on their studies, engage with their classmates, and develop confidence within themselves and others, but LGBTQ+ student safety can’t be taken for granted,” said Kristy Self, a teacher in Oklahoma and a member of GLSEN’s National Educator Advisory Committee, in a statement. “As an educator, it’s my job to teach my students about how to build respect in the classroom and in the community. It takes all of us from the principals to the school bus drivers to create an inclusive learning environment for our LGBTQ+ students.”
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Despite societal progress in recent decades, schools remain hostile places for LGBTQ+ students, who still report hearing homophobic comments like "that's so gay" and "no homo." Last July, a national survey revealed that 40 percent of LGBTQ+ youth and more than half of transgender respondents had seriously considered suicide in the last year. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated existing inequities, leaving many students without the safe spaces and resources available in schools as hate crimes are on the rise.
“I’m sick of hearing homophobic and transphobic insults at school. LGBTQ+ students deserve to take pride in our own identities, not have other people label us with cruel and outdated language,” said Nic Oke, a high school student in Maryland and a member of GLSEN’s National Student Council, in a statement. “No Name-Calling Week is about giving LGBTQ+ students a chance to feel respected and safe at school, just like anyone else.”
In addition to virtual event programming, GLSEN offers anti-bullying resources and lesson plans to help educators and students both raise awareness and empower LGBTQ+ students. Research shows that bullying not only affects the health of victims but also perpetrators and bystanders, putting all students at risk.
“We know that name-calling takes a heavy toll on LGBTQ+ youth, and students who face harassment and bullying are more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe,” said Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, Deputy Executive Director of GLSEN. “Ending name-calling is a critical step toward building inclusive school communities where all young people can thrive, without fear for their well-being, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race or disability.”
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