QUEER VOICES
07/15/2015 12:01 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Few School Districts Have Anti-Bullying Policies Protecting LGBT Students

Shutterstock / MitarArt

A majority of American school districts have no policies protecting LGBT students from bullying, according to a report released Wednesday.

Nearly 30 percent of school districts have no official anti-bullying policy, according to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, which surveyed more than 13,000 school districts. Of the 70 percent of school districts that do have anti-bullying policies, fewer than half explicitly outline protections for students who get bullied because of their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. Only about 14 percent of districts have protections based on gender identity or expression.

America's LGBT community has made historic strides in recent weeks. In late June, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, using the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause to support the ruling. In early July, the U.S. Department of Justice sided with a transgender teen suing his school district because it will not let him use the boys restroom.

Still, the report found that many school districts fail to comply with state laws requiring anti-bullying codes, while others go beyond what their states mandate.

The report "illustrates the gap that can emerge between the intentions of a law and the actual implementation –- arguably the most critical component of the passage of any law," said Eliza Byard, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network executive director, in a press release. "There remain far too many school districts that have failed to institute policy protections, even in states which require them by law. As a result, these schools continue to fail our students.”

The organization analyzed the anti-bullying policies of every school district from 2008 to 2011.

The map below shows which states are most likely to have school districts with any anti-bullying policy. The graph shows which states have school districts with the most inclusive anti-bullying policies.


Graphic by Cameron Love for The Huffington Post.

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's annual school climate survey, which asks LGBT youth about their experiences in school, shows that "students who believe that their schools have LGBT-inclusive policies experience better school climates," the report says.

The group's most recent school climate report from the 2012-2013 school year found that of the 8,000 students surveyed, more than 55 percent reported feeling unsafe at school due to their sexual orientation.

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