It is somewhat ironic that among students harassed because of their perceived sexual orientation, about 75% were actually heterosexual. Thus, heterosexuals are the main victims of homophobic harassment.
A 1999 survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) friendly youth organizations by the Gay Lesbian & Straight Educational Network (GLSEN) found that:
Lawsuits appear to be most successful if the student and parent carefully document every incident of harassment and every meeting with school officials.
It is sad that some school boards will be motivated to protect their students more out of fear than a sense of decency and fairness. But at least school districts will eventually be forced to protect all of their students. They will find that an early enforcement of anti-discrimination policies will nip harassment of gays and lesbians in the bud when it is at the name-calling stage, before the situation degenerates into violence. Court cases present school districts with only two options: to protect all of their students against harassment, or to face bankruptcy.
Some school districts are taking a pro-active stance over homophobic and other forms of harassment. Others at least are monitoring the magnitude of the problem. 2,3,4,5 In early 1995, the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Community Services Center of Colorado had supplied a poster to the schools. It urged students with concerns about their sexuality to phone the center. That poster was criticized by a fundamentalist Christian organization, Focus on the Family, from nearby Colorado Springs. They felt that the poster promoted the homosexual "lifestyle." They were also disturbed that the poster seemed to recommend that students contact an outside agency instead of seeking support from their parents. (Since a substantial percentage of youth who reveal their gay or lesbian orientation to their parents get thrown out of the house, the poster's recommendations may be quite reasonable).
The Denver school system organized a program in early 1996 which included a new poster which urges students to talk to school counselors about harassment based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Counselors were given special training. Principals and governing committees implemented the program at each school. Lawrence Burtoft, a policy analyst from Focus on the Family was still unhappy: "To include homosexuality along with such characteristics as race, ethnicity and gender is to accept an understanding of homosexuality which is not grounded in fact."
The following information sources were used during them mid to late 1990s to create the above essay. Due to attrition, few are still online today.
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