School climates are unsafe for LGBT students, students perceived to be LGBT, and gender non-
conforming students, according to the Preventing School Harassment survey.
91 percent of students reported hearing students make negative comments based on sexual orientation.
44 percent reported hearing teachers make negative comments based on sexual orientation.
46 percent of students said their schools were not safe for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
Two out of every three students who identified as LGBT reported being harassed based on actual or
perceived sexual orientation.
School climates are also unsafe for gender non-conforming students. 53 percent of students said their
schools were unsafe for “guys who aren’t as masculine as other guys,” and 34 percent said their schools
were unsafe for “girls who aren’t as feminine as other girls.” 27 percent of students reported being
harassed for gender non-conformity.
Schools can take steps to improve safety and health for all students, according to the
Preventing School Harassment (PSH) survey.
The PSH survey reveals that specific steps schools can
take that are related to a more positive overall school
climate, lower rates of harassment based on actual or
perceived sexual orientation and gender non-
conformity, and stronger student resilience.
Local school officials and school administrators
should establish and publicize district policies
prohibiting harassment based on sexual orientation
and gender, including gender identity, appearance
and behavior; ensure that all school staff are trained
to prevent and respond to harassment; support the
formation of Gay-Straight Alliances or similar clubs;
and treat all forms of harassment and discrimination
as serious and preventable.
Teachers and school staff can make schools safer
by responding to slurs and negative comments, by
sharing with students where to go for information
about sexual orientation and gender identity, and
by including LGBT people and information about
sexual orientation and gender identity in the
The full Safe Place to Learn report is available at
For more information, contact
Molly O’Shaughnessy at (415) 626-1680.
STEPS Schools Can Take
Establish and publicize a harassment policy that specifically includes
sexual orientation and gender, including gender identity, appearance,
Train teachers and staff to intervene when they hear slurs or
negative comments based on sexual orientation or gender
Support the establishment of a Gay-Straight Alliance or similar
Ensure that students know where to go for information and support
related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Introduce curriculum that includes LGBT people and information
about sexual orientation and gender identity.
OUTCOMES for Students
and School Environment
Fewer incidents of harassment and bullying.
Fewer bias-related comments and less name-calling.
Greater feelings of safety.
Improved connections to school, community, and supportive adults