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Report: Lessons That Matter: LGBTQ Inclusivity and School Safety

Report » Lessons That Matter: LGBTQ Inclusivity and School Safety


Students: LGBTQ, Students: Equity


Burdge, H., Sinclair, K., Laub, C., Russell, S.T.




Gay-Straight Alliance Network and California Safe Schools Coalition Research


Data from the California Safe Schools Coalition 2004-2006 Preventing School Harassment
(PSH) survey illustrates the importance of LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum on student safety.1 In
particular, students who answered that they learned about LGBTQ people or issues as part
of a classroom lesson were more likely to feel safer, more likely to report a stronger sense
of school belonging, and less likely to report being harassed based on sexual orientation
or gender identity. However, this data did not reveal what kinds of LGBTQ-inclusive lessons
students were learning in school, or in what classes students were most likely to learn
about LGBTQ topics. The data also did not reveal what types of lessons and in which classes
inclusion most effectively impacts school safety.
In an effort to learn more, a new set of questions were included in the 2008 PSH survey. In particular, students reported on specific classes in which they learned about LGBTQ people
and issues along with what classes were the most supportive of LGBTQ people and issues.
The 2008 PSH survey data reveal the pervasiveness and supportiveness2 of LGBTQ-inclusive
lessons in school. The data also show how different types of inclusive curriculum (presented
in different school contexts and/or classes) impact both individual students and/or the entire
school community as a whole. Finally, the data illustrate how the existence of Gay-Straight
Alliance (GSA) clubs contribute to school safety in both schools with and schools without
LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum.
The analysis places student respondents into two groups: LGBTQ and allied students, and
heterosexual students who do not participate in GSA clubs. "LGBTQ" refers to lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, and queer students, and "allied students" refers to heterosexual
students who participate in GSAs. Findings are consistent across both groups unless
explicitly stated otherwise.