The COVID-19 pandemic has forced educational institutions across the globe to reimagine schooling. Remote learning––an approach once synonymous with homeschooling––has now replaced traditional instruction and has compelled educators to find innovative ways to reach students on a social and emotional level.
As equity in education continues to grow on the back-to-school priority list, we believe now is the time to also reimagine school climate and its impact on the welfare of marginalized students––specifically LGBTQ+ students and students of color.
A 2011 study reported that 64% of LGBTQ+ students who participated in a national survey felt unsafe in their school because of their sexual orientation. The numbers from a 2018 study were no better.
Where to Start
We encourage schools to utilize this opportunity to assess and reimagine their school climate.
GLSEN has historically played an important role in collecting national and state data on school climate. Their Local School Climate Survey (LSCS) is a tool developed for students, educators and advocates to assess the safety and overall environment of their local schools or communities using surveys of students. It allows school leaders to select from pre-loaded questions to build a survey, as well as create their own questions. The surveys are designed to be taken by middle and high school students (specifically ages 13 and up). This tool also provides leaders with a report of the results from the survey they create.
Every school community is uniquely different. So, there's not a cookie-cutter response to how best to improve a school's climate to ensure the safety of LGBTQ+ youth, but GLSEN's survey provides every school with a starting point.
Encourage your local school to conduct a school climate survey before students return.