Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Says Bullying Sparks School Violence Coalition for Gays Blames Harassment for Recent Problems

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Says Bullying Sparks School Violence Coalition for Gays Blames Harassment for Recent Problems

Article excerpt

Byline: Alliniece T. Andino, Times-Union staff writer

Metal detectors aren't the answer to ending school violence, says a group of area residents. What's needed is a school climate that impedes harassment.

The recently formed Northeast Florida Safe Schools Coalition focuses on gay and lesbian youth, but coalition members say any harassed student may end up turning a loaded gun on classmates.

"In order to prevent that type of explosion, we need to address that bullying component," said Cindy Watson, a member of the coalition, which met yesterday. "The [school] systems are not consistently or pro-actively trying to create a safe environment where every student is accepted."

When 496 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth from 32 states were surveyed recently by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, more than 90 percent said they frequently hear homophobic remarks in school. Forty-one percent said they don't feel safe in school because of their sexual orientation.

Harassment increases truancy, dropout and even suicide rates.

A 16-year-old student at Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville attended yesterday's meeting and said she hears taunts 30 times a day. The student, a lesbian whose name is being withheld because she fears further harassment, said her peers commonly describe something stupid as "gay." And when comments are made in front of teachers, they often do nothing to curb the derogatory slurs, she said.

"It's just horrible, dealing with all this -- -- on a daily basis," the student said. "It puts me in a bad mood every day. I don't care about school. I just want to go home."

Early this month, the coalition sent all Duval County public school principals packets about the need to create a safe space for gay and lesbian youth within their schools.

The packets included statistics, information on sexual identity and examples of how lesbian and gay youth and those who are heterosexual but are perceived to be gay are harassed. They also highlighted ideas for what educators can do to improve the school climate.

Fuel to the coalition's crusade came in the form of comments last week from state Rep. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.