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Survey: Florida Schools Aren't Protecting LGBT Students

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An advocacy group reports Florida schools are failing to protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) newest survey shows Florida’s secondary school policies aren’t keeping this vulnerable student population safe. The group said inadequate policies and school resources are largely to blame.

Maddy Boesen, a researcher who worked on the group’s new National School Climate Survey, said LGBT students face different kinds of bullying at school.

“I think we see this both as sort of the ambient environment of schools,” she said. “So, the anti-LGBT language that LGBT students report hearing, as well as direct victimization. So, that includes verbal harassment all the way up to physical assault.”

Frank Roder works for Tampa Bay’s GLSEN chapter. He said Florida students in particular aren’t being protected because the state’s anti-bullying policy isn’t comprehensive enough.

“Basically, if you have a bullying incident in Florida all you do is record it as a bullying incident,” he said. “You don’t break it down by: ‘was it was because of race, was it because of gender, was it because of sexual orientation?’  So, there is no way to look at the data to figure out what you got to do.”

He said that makes it hard to tell whether or not bullying aimed at LGBT students is on the rise. Roder said schools also aren’t doing a good job of reporting any kind of bullying.

Both Boesen and Roder said there aren’t enough resources or school clubs aimed at helping these students. Students also said in the survey they often didn’t report bullying incidents to teachers and staff at school.

Ashley Lopez is a reporter forWGCUNews. A native of Miami, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree.
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