In 1999, GLSEN identified that little was known about the school experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and that LGBT youth were nearly absent from national studies of adolescents. We responded to this national need for data by launching the first National School Climate survey, and we continue to meet this continued need for current data by conducting the study every two years. Since then, the biennial National School Climate Survey has documented the unique challenges LGBT students face and identified interventions that can improve school climate. The survey documents the prevalence of anti-LGBT language and victimization, such as experiences of harassment and assault in school. In addition, the survey examines school policies and practices that may contribute to negative experiences for LGBT students and make them feel as if they are not valued by their school communities. The survey also explores the effects that a hostile school climate may have on LGBT students’ educational outcomes and well-being. Finally, the survey reports on the availability and the utility of LGBT-related school resources and supports that may offset the negative effects of a hostile school climate and promote a positive learning experience. In addition to collecting this critical data every two years, we also add and adapt survey questions to respond to the changing world for LGBT youth. For example, in the 2013 survey we added a question about hearing negative remarks about transgender people (e.g., “tranny”). The National School Climate Survey remains one of the few studies to examine the school experiences of LGBT students nationally, and its results have been vital to GLSEN’s understanding
of the issues that LGBT students face, thereby informing our ongoing work to ensure safe and
affirming schools for all.
In our 2013 survey, we examine the experiences of LGBT students with regard to indicators of negative school climate: