New Study Reveals LGBT Educators Experience in Schools

I receive regular updates about safe schools work and issues
around the country from the wonderfully active Safe Schools Coalition.
A big THANK YOU to them for the tireless and largely volunteer

Through a recent update, I found out about a new study out of
Millersville University that highlights the workplace experiences
of LGBT educators nationwide. The researchers’ findings were
presented at the March 25, 2008 Annual Conference of the American Educational Research
, held in New York City.

Unsurprisingly the study parallels the findings of Involved,
Invisible, Ignored: The Experiences of LGBT Parents and Their
Children in Our Nation’s K-12 Schools
, co-produced by
Family Equality
, GLSEN and COLAGE and released this year.

From the summary of the educators’ study:

Students are more likely to excel to their full
potential if their teachers feel safe and fully supported in their
workplace environments. Evidence suggests that teachers who feel
safe have a higher level of professional efficacy, which in turn
contributes to increased student achievement. The study of lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender educators…unequivocally
demonstrates that the LGBT educator participants do not feel safe
and fully supported in their workplace. Instead, the climate, the
overall atmosphere in which they work, is perceived with fear and
distrust, and as troubling, unsafe and unsupportive.

Meanwhile, more than half of these educators “reported being
supportive of out or questioning LGBT students,” regardless of
whether it affected their own professional status. Involved,
Invisible, Ignored
shows that LGBT parents are
similarly involved in improving their children’s
educational experiences, despite the fact that they often feel left
out of their school communities at best and actively ostracized at

As it turns out, LGBT educators report certain conditions that
could be met to make them feel safer, more professionally supported
and involved in their schools:

  • Hearing no homophobic, racist, sexist or transphobic language
    at school
    Having principals/colleagues who intervene if they hear such
    Working in a school with a clear policy for reporting
    Receiving professional development related to LGBTQ students
    Working in a school with a GSA
    Working in a district that honors domestic partner benefits
    Having LGBT-inclusive books in school libraries
    Working with curricula that is LGBT-inclusive
    Having their life events celebrated on par with their heterosexual
    colleagues’ life events

To name a few.

The moral of the story? There’s no shortage of information on the
problems facing LGBT educators, parents, students and others
associated with our schools, and there’s certainly no shortage of
workable solutions to improve the experiences of all people
learning, working and related to schools.

Our work is cut out for us. Now is the time to keep those sleeves
rolled up and continue the education and advocacy efforts that will
bring us to a point where all school communities recognize,
respect, protect and celebrate all of their members.

To request a full copy of the educators’ report, contact
principal researcher Nancy Smith at