HRC and UCONN Survey Reveals California LGBTQ Students Not Receiving Adequate Support

by Elliott Kozuch

Washington -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, in partnership with nine California civil rights and education organizations, released the California LGBTQ Youth Report, a groundbreaking resource detailing the experiences of LGBTQ students in California. The report analyzes responses from more than 1,700 young people from California, ranging in age from 13 to 17, who participated in HRC’s online 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey.


“This groundbreaking data reveals that the cards remain stacked against LGBTQ youth in California -- and especially so for LGBTQ youth of color and transgender and gender-expansive youth,” said Ellen Kahn, HRC Foundation Director of the Children, Youth & Families Program. “However, despite these challenges, many LGBTQ students are taking action and advocating for inclusivity and equality in schools. As advocates, parents, teachers, school administrators and school board members, we must follow their lead by implementing recommendations in this report, including ensuring curricula are LGBTQ-inclusive and supporting LGBTQ student clubs, to create safe, affirming and welcoming schools.”


HRC and researchers at the University of Connecticut found that even with California state laws explicitly protecting LGBTQ students:

  • Only 10 percent of LGBTQ youth in California say all of their school staff are supportive of LGBTQ students;
  • Only 32 percent of LGBTQ youth in California always feel safe in the classroom;
  • Half of all respondents have been teased or bullied because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and 28 percent of LGBTQ youth in California have been threatened with physical violence at least once because of their sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Forty-three percent of transgender students can NEVER use the bathroom/locker room at school that matches their gender identity


In recent years, California has passed several laws designed to explicitly protect LGBTQ students and to provide guidance on compliance. However, data suggests that some districts may be unaware of their legal obligations, and others are still in the process of updating policies and procedures to ensure LGBTQ inclusion. These oversights and delays -- and, in some cases, decisions by the district to ignore the requirements -- have likely contributed to the challenges experienced by LGBTQ youth who responded to the survey.


The California LGBTQ Youth Report also highlights the voices of supportive California teachers, school counselors and school administrators, and offers strategies to address the disparities experienced by LGBTQ young people when they’re at school.


“I’ve always considered myself an ally, but for some reason that did not translate into students identifying me as a supportive adult they could speak to. This was evident the day I placed a Safe Space sticker in my office,” writes a Riverside-area school counselor. “Within days, several students were sharing and recounting stories of rejection and harassment that no child should ever experience alone. Every student should know they have support from a caring adult, an educator. I now know that calling myself an ally without action isn’t enough.”


The U.S. lacks reliable data about LGBTQ people, especially about the experiences of LGBTQ youth. In light of this, and in the face of consistent attacks on LGBTQ youth, HRC is committed to ensuring this data is in the hands of teachers, school counselors, coaches, doctors and other youth-serving professionals across the country. These findings will inform a variety of HRC Foundation programs for youth and youth-serving professionals, including the Sports Equality initiative, HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools and All Children-All Families programs, and the HRC Time to THRIVE Conference. The full results of the survey can be found here.


This report was written in partnership with the Association of California School Administrators, California Association of School Counselors, California Association of School Psychologists, California Federation of Teachers, California School Board Association, California School Nurses Organization, California Teachers Association, California PTA and Equality California.


The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is education arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.



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