Schools are often hostile environments for LGBT youth. Nearly 9 in 10 LGBT students report experiencing harassment within the last school year, and 3 in 10 report missing a class – or even a whole day of school – because they felt unsafe.
It’s critical that we work to build environments of acceptance to ensure all students can be out, safe, and respected in school.
In 2010, GE called upon the state legislature to immediately address the problem of bullying and harassment in schools. A bipartisan group of Representatives and Senators answered our call, introducing legislation to reduce bullying in schools. This bill was signed into law in 2010.
In the months following passage of the new law in 2010, we conducted a scan of school district policies to determine which districts had LGBT specific-inclusive bullying prevention policies – we were able to determine it was less than 30%. Since then we have been working with individual school districts to enact LGBT-inclusive policies that protect all Georgia students.
In August of 2011, GE launched GSA Connect, a program to connect and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) students in Georgia. Many young people are eager and ready to create real change in their schools, and we’re working with them to do just that.
The work of GSA Connect focuses on supporting the development and programming of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), student run clubs that are proven to combat bullying and harassment against LGBTQ students and their allies. The Network also creates leadership and networking opportunities for students involved with GSAs and provides tools, training, and resources for the growth of GSAs.