Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments Can Improve Students’ Wellbeing and Academic Success

January 1, 1970 | National

Students deserve to feel safe and supported, but for most LGBTQ students, experiences of discrimination and hostility in school are the reality. According to the recent findings of GLSEN’s 2019 School Climate Survey:

  • Over 95 percent of LGBTQ students heard homophobic remarks at school and over half heard this type of language frequently or often.
  • 68.7 percent  of LGBTQ stuents experienced verbal harassment like name-calling or threats at school.
  • 84 percent of trans students felt unsafe at school because of their gender.
  • Many LGBTQ students also reported experiencing discriminatory policies or practices at school such as being prevented from using their appropriate name or pronouns, being prohibited from discussing or writing about LGBTQ topics in school assignments, and being prevented from wearing clothing or items supporting LGBTQ issues.
  • Many LGBTQ students of color reported harassment or negative school experiences based on both their LGBTQ identities and their race or ethnicity.

Discrimination and hostile climates at school have negative impacts on students’ well-being and academic success — these environments do harm to their self-esteem, sense of belonging, attendance, grades, and participation in extracurricular activities. Unsurprisingly, however, students who feel safe and supported have better education outcomes. With access to inclusive resources and supports, students perform better academically, are less likely to feel unsafe, and feel a greater sense of belonging in their school community. 

Students deserve safe, healthy, and inclusive learning environments and access to equitable educational opportunities. Schools can foster these learning environments by implementing policies that ensure students have equal access to facilities and activities; promoting and supporting LGBTQ-inclusive student clubs; and providing professional development for staff to give educators the tools they need to be supportive and intervene when needed. Rather than feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, students deserve to have all of their identities supported and celebrated in school. 

Read GLSEN’s full 2019 National School Climate Survey report here