For K-12 educators who attended NIU’s Oct. 26 professional development conference on “Bullying: How Schools Can Respond,” a quotation presented by keynote speakers Z Nicolazzo and Molly Holmes painted a difficult picture.
“The dominant narrative (of LGBTQ bullying) depends on an inaccurate premise,” Nicolazzo said, reading from a 2013 study by researchers Elizabethe Payne and Melissa Smith.
“It assumes schools to be neutral sites where all students have an equal opportunity to succeed and that barriers to success appear when individuals’ injurious behavior or attitudes create a ‘negative’ school climate where student safety and belonging are threatened.”
What’s more, the presenters said, the increasing visibility of trans* people in the United States is matched by a growing vulnerability, risk of harm and threat of harassment.
LGBTQ students are experiencing educational environments that are less than ideal. They continue to face a lack of acceptance. Their lives are not reflected or affirmed through school curricula – and they are aware of that deficit.
One recent study found that 22 percent of students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from other students often or very often; 25.5 percent of students heard school staff make negative remarks related to gender expression.