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TRENTON -- Even as schools have offered significantly more support for LGBTQ students, New Jersey's middle and high schools remain hostile environments for many gay, lesbian and transgender teens, according to a survey by a national education advocacy organization....

N.J. schools 'not safe' for most LGBTQ students, survey finds

TRENTON -- Even as schools have offered significantly more support for LGBTQ students, New Jersey's middle and high schools remain hostile environments for many gay, lesbian and transgender teens, according to a survey by a national education advocacy organization....

N.J. schools 'not safe' for most LGBTQ students, survey finds

TRENTON -- Even as schools have offered significantly more support for LGBTQ students, New Jersey's middle and high schools remain hostile environments for many gay, lesbian and transgender teens, according to a survey by a national education advocacy organization.

The 2015 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 85 percent of the 302 LGBTQ students surveyed in New Jersey said they heard negative remarks about gender expression in school and nearly 80 percent heard homophobic remarks. 

Fourteen percent of students said they heard homophobic comments from school staff, the results released Wednesday found. 

The New Jersey students who participated in the survey were among 10,528 students nationwide, including students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The national results found that most schools are still hostile environments for LGBTQ students, though anti-bullying policies and gay-straight alliances have helped change school culture. 

The survey's findings mirror stories shared by LGBTQ middle and high school students across the state, said Carol Watchler, co-chair of GLSEN Central New Jersey.

"Schools are still hostile environments for so many of these students," Watcher said. "And now more than ever they need our support."

Can popular students stop school bullying?

Philip McCormick, co-chair of GLSEN Northern New Jersey, said LGBTQ students need supportive student clubs and school curriculum that positively depicts LGBTQ topics.

"We have so much more work to do, but we have seen what works in Northern New Jersey to improve school climates for LGBTQ students," McCormick said. 

Among key findings in New Jersey: 

  • 87 percent of LGBTQ students said they heard the word "gay" used in a negative way.
  • 64 percent of LGBTQ students said they had been verbally harassed about their sexual orientation, but more than half of those students never reported the incidents.
  • 55 percent of LGBTQ students said they heard negative remarks about transgender people. 
  • 41 percent of transgender students said they were not able to use the bathroom that aligned with their gender. 
  • 21 percent of LBTQ students did said they not think their schools had a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that protected them based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. 
  • 13 percent of LGBTQ students said they were prevented from using their preferred name and gender pronouns in school. 

Still, many LGBTQ students said they found support from teachers or classmates. In New Jersey, 99 percent of students knew at least one supportive teacher and 82 percent knew six or more supportive teachers, according to the survey. 

New Jersey has one of the strictest anti-bullying laws in the country, a measure that is supposed to specifically protect students from bullying because of their perceived or actual gender identity and expression.

Adam Clark may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClark. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

 

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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