Given that more and more youngsters are self-identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) at younger ages, a new report hopes to shed light on school climate, biased remarks and bullying among elementary school students.
Released by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), "Playground and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States" examined students' and teachers' experiences with biased remarks and bullying, as well as attitudes about gender expression and family diversity. The report itself is based on national surveys of 1,065 elementary school students in third to sixth grades, as well as 1,099 elementary school teachers of kindergarten through sixth grade.
Among the report's key findings: the most common forms of biased language exchanged among elementary school students are the use of the word "gay" (as in "that's so gay") along with "spaz" or "retard." Even more disturbing -- a staggering 75 percent of students reported that they were called names or bullied with some regularity, frequently based on their looks or body size. Interestingly, 37 percent attributed the bullying to the fact that they weren't good at sports, compared with 26 percent who said their aptitude with schoolwork was the reason.
Finally, one in seven students said the reason they personally felt unsafe or afraid at school is personal appearance.
"Over the past few years, there has been an increase in research on bullying in schools, including elementary schools,” Senior Director of Research & Strategic Initiatives Dr. Joseph Kosciw said in a statement. “However, our report is one of the few that examines bias-based bullying at the elementary school level and the first to examine incidence of homophobic remarks and the negative experiences of children who do not conform to societal standards in their gender expression from a national vantage point."
In conjunction with the report, GLSEN officials also released "Ready, Set, Respect!" which they describe as "a new instructional resource informed by our findings to address homophobia, gender expression and LGBT-inclusive family diversity at the elementary school level."
Take a look at some of the report's key findings below: