It’s Spirit Day, GLAAD’s annual event to speak out against LGBTQ bullying and stand with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment. At a time when our nation’s leader is setting an example of how to bully, events like these—and the actions they can inspire all year long—are more critical than ever before.
- 85.2% of LGBTQ students report being verbally harassed
- 63.5% of LGBTQ students report hearing homophobic remarks from teachers and/or school staff because of their gender expression
- 57.6% of LGBTQ students did not report experiences of bullying because they doubted an intervention
- 57.6% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation
- 48.6% of LGBTQ students have experienced cyberbullying
- 63.5% of LGBTQ students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response or told the student to ignore it
according to GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate Survey, cited by GLAAD. That data was gathered before President Trump took office and the rise of what some have called the “Trump effect”: “the rise of classroom bullying and harassment driven, at least in part, by the antagonistic rhetoric of the presidential campaign.”
Even former President George W. Bush (of whom I am not usually a fan) said today, “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children,” in what most news outlets are seeing as a thinly-veiled rebuke of President Trump.
As President Trump continues to support anti-LGBTQ policies and speak at the gatherings of anti-LGBTQ organizations, LGBTQ youth (and those perceived as such) and the children of LGBTQ parents need our support more than ever. GLSEN has some good resources for those looking to create positive change in their local schools; the Movement Advancement Project offers a map of safe schools laws in every state; and the American Psychological Association has a number of pieces about prevention and response strategies for bullying of many kinds.
As parents, it is up to us to support our own children if we see them bullied, to raise children so that they don’t bully others, and to speak out against both specific acts of bullying and environments that nurture bullying attitudes. May we support each other and all our children in this endeavor, today and every day.