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Safe at School: Addressing the School Environment and LGBT Safety through Policy and Legislation

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students face a unique set of safety concerns each day. Over 85% report being harassed because of their sexual or gender identity, and over 20% report being physically attacked. Far too often teachers and administrators do nothing in response. In part because of this, the suicide rate for LGBT students continues to be 3-4 times higher than that of their straight counterparts, and in some parts of the country LGBT runaways may comprise up to 40% of the entire teen homeless population. Advances in law and policy have helped lead to much more fulfilling and productive lives for many LGBT persons, but the problems facing LGBT youth in America‘s public schools are still substantial. Gay and gender-non-conforming students continue to be confronted with challenges that can become overwhelming. Court records and academic research reveal a highly troubling pattern of mistreatment, negative consequences, and a dramatic failure on the part of many educational institutions to adequately address LGBT-related issues and concerns. This brief describes those issues, presents concrete policy recommendations, and then offers model statutory code language to implement many of those recommendations.