WILLIAMS: Are LGBTQ unsafe in schools?

Majesty Williams is a sophomore visual and performing arts major from Houston, Texas.

College is the time where students go off to discover their own identity and experience life without being constantly managed by an authoritative figure. This is where students gain their first real taste of adulthood. For some students who may be struggling with their sexuality and gender identity, this could pose as a serious threat to their education.  


GLSEN released data regarding a LGBT social climate survey regarding students in the public school setting. Surveys conducted showed that of the LGBT identified students in public school systems, 83 percent of students reported feeling unsafe in their social setting with 79 percent experiencing verbal and physical harassment and 67 percent of that being related to gender identity or expression. 


What makes the situation worse is that the students are scared to speak out against these injustices. Only 53 percent report these issues to the appropriate authority, and only 28 percent of those resulted in the effective and appropriate staff intervention. The research further goes on to say that in the last year alone 78 percent of students report being victimized solely due to them being or possessing characteristics of an LGBTQ person. 


As a college student in Louisiana who identifies outside of the traditional gender norm presented by society, these numbers are very problematic and are a hindrance to our community as a whole. It stifles progression to achieving full equality. 


77 percent of students report hearing negative remarks about transgender students. I believe this is due to a lack of adequate training on behalf of the administration. Part of these statistics trace back to the roots of the problem about people being improperly educated or lack of education on the subject matter. 


Additionally 52 percent of students report hearing homophobic remarks about students from faculty AND administration. 52 percent hear staff make derogatory remark on the regular in regards to gender expression. 


Not only are we, LGBTQ students, being insulted, harassed and degraded but we are being PUNISHED for living in our authentic truth. 48 percent of LGBT students in Louisiana said they were DISCIPLINED for showing affection to a loved one when the same action occurred between non-LGBT students, no one was disciplined. 28 percent of LGBT students reported being unable to wear LGBT themed apparel and 28 percent were unable to bring a same sex date to school formals and proms. 


I am stressing that leaders in Louisiana must prioritize the well being of its marginalized students as we approach a more welcoming and open era. 


We must stop shying away from the conversation these numbers illustrate a serious problem in Louisiana and this problem is serious, especially in the South. 


People should be able to get the education that their parents are paying for and not be constantly on the defense because of something that is beyond their control. 


Bullying and harassment leads to anxiety and depression and can hinder ones’ academic advancement. 


Over 68 percent of LGBT students go truant due to the harassment they endure constantly. 


We must change the narrative if we want the numbers are to change and society is to grow.