A new study from the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) provides a novel look into the experience of LGBT youth who live in rural areas and don’t access to the same support structures as those in urban or suburban areas. This isolation leads to heightened incidents of student victimization and an unsafe school climate, which in turn negatively impact students’ academic performance and aspirations for post-secondary education. Compared to suburban and urban LGBT students, those living in rural areas felt less safe at school, had less supportive administrators, had less supportive peers, and were less likely to have policies protecting sexual orientation and gender expression. The new report is based on the data GLSEN originally presented in September, which found troubling rates of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment nationwide. The very policies that would help protect students with anti-bullying programs and education are opposed by conservatives based on “religious liberty” grounds.
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