Human Rights Watch finds the widespread abuse of gay students in high school.
Report avaliable at http://www.hrw.org/
The Human Rights Watch Report on the abuse of gay youth.
The Human Rights Watch studies the incidence of human rights violations and torture worldwide. They released a
report yesterday (May 30, 2001) documenting the systematic abuse of gay high school students in the United States.
The report can be found at http://www.hrw.org/
The following is the HRW press release:
U.S. Gets "Failing Grade" Protecting Gay Students Widespread Bullying, Teacher Indifference in U.S.
(Los Angeles, May 30, 2001) Gay teenagers are often subject to so much bullying in U.S. schools that they are
not receiving an adequate education, Human Rights Watch charged in a new report released today. The problem affects
as many as two million school-age youth nationwide.
The 203-page report is based on in-depth interviews with 140 youth and 130 teachers, administrators, counselors,
and parents in seven states: California, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, and Utah.
The report, Hatred in the Hallways: Discrimination and Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
Students in U.S. Public Schools, found that teachers and administrators frequently ignore bullying and even violence
against these students. School officials often refuse to accept reports of harassment or to hold the perpetrators
accountable; in some instances, they have encouraged or have themselves participated in such abuse.
"The U.S. school system gets a failing grade when it comes to providing a safe place for gay students to
get an education," said
Michael Bochenek, counsel to the Children's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch and a coauthor of the report.
"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender kids face a greater risk of bullying than any other students in
American high schools. That has to stop."
Students told Human Rights Watch that they spend an enormous amount of energy figuring out how to get to and from
school safely, avoiding the hallways when other students are present in order to escape slurs and shoves, and cutting
gym classes to escape being beaten up-in short, attempting to become invisible. One student told Human Rights
Watch that attending school meant being in "survival mode."
The harassment takes a serious toll on these students' emotional and physical health and on their academic studies.
Some drop out of school. Others commit suicide. A growing number are demanding that school administrations ensure
their safety and that they be allowed to organize gay-straight student groups.
Every state requires youth to attend school. Yet only a handful of states have enacted legislation to protect
students from harassment and violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This leaves the vast majority
of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students vulnerable to abuse.
"School systems and teachers are really failing these kids," said Widney Brown, advocacy director of
the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch and a coauthor of the report. "And the consequence is that
they are not getting an education."
Human Rights Watch called for immediate action by school districts, the states, and the federal government to end
All school district policies should explicitly prohibit harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation
and gender identity. School districts should also ensure that these policies are implemented fully; where gaps
exist between policy and practice, they should take immediate measures to close the gap by training all staff and
State legislatures should enact laws to protect students from harassment and discrimination on the basis of sexual
The U.S. Department of Education should monitor school districts for compliance with the principle of nondiscrimination,
intervene where policies are failing, and include sexual orientation and gender identity in data collection tools
measuring discrimination in education.
Federal and state government should enact legislation to protect administrators, teachers, counselors, other school
staff, and all
employees from discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.