Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gender nonconforming youth, and youth of color not only face bullying and harassment from peers, but also harsh and disparate discipline from school staff

On October 8, 2014, GSA Network and Crossroads Collaborative released a set of reports finding that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, gender nonconforming youth, and youth of color not only face bullying and harassment from peers, but also harsh and disparate discipline from school staff, relatively higher levels of policing and surveillance, and blame for their own victimization. 
To accompany the reports, Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization, and GSA Network also released a set of policy recommendations based on the research for school staff, policy makers, and young people advocating for change.
Download the reports:

Key Findings:

Gender nonconformity, or GNC, is a term used to describe a person’s identity or expression of gender. A GNC person may express their gender through the clothes they wear, the activities they engage in, the pronouns they use, and/or their mannerisms. This expression may embrace masculinity, femininity, neither, or both. GNC is also an umbrella term used to describe various gender identities such as genderqueer, gender fluid, boi, gender neutral, and/or transgender. In general, GNC youth do not conform to stereotypical expectations of what it means to be and to look like a male or a female.

Harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is common in schools. Similarly, harassment based on a student’s racial or ethnic identity is also common in schools and research reveals that there is significant overlap in race and sexual orientation-based harassment. According to one study, nearly one-third of students who are bullied are subjected to both types of harassment. While students facing any type of bullying or harassment report feeling unsafe at school, students experiencing multiple forms.

In addition to harassment and bullying from peers based on race, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, participants also report"
  • Lack of support or protection from teachers, administrators, and school site staff
  • Accounts of harassment and bullying perpetrated by teachers, administrators, and school staff such as campus security guards
  • Discipline disparities such as frequent and/or harsher punishment for the same or similar infraction in comparison to their peers
  • Marginalization such as exclusionary discipline used to deny educational time
  • Victim blaming where GNC youth are labeled as the ultimate problem.
These types of challenges build upon one another to create “school push-out,” where many GNC youth are marginalized in school or are pushed out of the school system altogether. This exclusion presents immediate risks to on a path towards the criminal justice system perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline.

Accordingly, it is not surprising that LGBTQ youth make up approximately 15% of the juvenile detention population but only 6% of the general population.

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