Most Georgia LGBT students say they were harassed for being gay

Most Georgia students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender were called names or threatened because of their sexual orientation and about a third were physically harassed, according to 2013 survey results released this week by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a nonprofit that advocates for safe schools for all students.

The findings for Georgia are similar to results from the group’s national survey.

Other findings from the Georgia survey include:

  • About 19 percent of students regularly heard school staff make homophobic remarks.
  • About 65 percent of students who were harassed or assaulted in school never reported it to school staff; about 56 percent never told a family member.
  • About 4 percent said they attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying/harassment policy that included specific protections based on sexual orientation.

Georgia’s school anti-bullying law does not specifically ban bullying based on specific characteristics, such as sexual orientation. But the Georgia Department of Education’s guidance to school districts defines harassment and intimidation as including any act that is motivated by personal characteristics including sexual orientation.

And in light of high-profile suicides of bullied LGBT students in recent years, a number of school districts have adopted stricter anti-bullying policies. Cobb County, where a transgender student was named to a high school homecoming court this year, was one of the first school districts in Georgia to implement an anti-bullying, no-harassment policy that included sexual orientation and gender identity.

The GLSEN national survey included 7,898 LGBT secondary-school students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including 242 in Georgia. The Georgia survey results have a margin of error of 6 percent.

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