Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gay Students in N.J. Feel Harassed

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gay Students in N.J. Feel Harassed

Article excerpt

Despite the state's having one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the nation, many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in New Jersey still say they feel harassed and unsupported at school, according to an advocacy group's survey.

Students said they had been teased, targeted or physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation or the way they expressed their gender, according to the 2013 survey by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. The group released state results Thursday as part of a larger report on safety and climate for LGBT students in U.S. schools.

The organization also said improvements had been made in states including New Jersey, which has seen a rise in anti-bullying support staff and student groups that support gay and transgender rights.

"The survey bears out what we often hear from students, parents and educators," said Carol Watchler, co-chairwoman of the organization's central New Jersey chapter. "Many students report that they regularly hear anti-LGBT comments, even from school staff, and are verbally harassed.

"Though not yet in all schools, New Jersey is rich with gay- straight alliances and supportive educators. We find that, as the survey shows, these schools have fewer incidences of anti-LGBT harassment and greater engagement of LGBT students in their schools."

New Jersey enacted a strong anti-bullying law in 2011 that requires prompt reporting and investigations of bullying incidents and anti-bullying instruction and policies in all school districts. The law was propelled by the 2010 death of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi of Ridgewood who committed suicide after his roommate secretly recorded him kissing another man and posted the video online.

The law has become a national model, said Department of Education spokesman Michael Yaple. …

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