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Creating a safe climate for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students: High school educators' perceptions of non-biased behavior

1 December 1998


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer the following research questions: 1) What perceptions do high school teachers have of their school's climate for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students? 2) Are homophobic incidents being recognized, and if so, are they receiving intervention? 3) What reasons do high school teachers have for intervening, or not intervening? and 4) How do they rate their behavior, on a continuum of biased to non-biased? This study took place at a grade 9-12 high school located in the Pacific Northwest. The participants were faculty, administration, and classified staff at this high school. Information was gathered outside of the classroom setting through participant completion of a standardized survey distributed to every faculty and staff member. In order to protect the participants' rights to privacy, no names were used in the completion of the survey and answers are anonymous. After collecting surveys and organizing and compiling data, several patterns emerged. In general, faculty and staff at this high school felt that gay and lesbian issues were fairly taboo for anyone, and that the school climate was not accepting of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgendered students. Most faculty and staff felt that this student population would not feel safe in their school. Additionally, teachers often said that they feel comfortable intervening in situations in their own classroom, but not outside of that sphere, which happens to be where they hear most homophobic or harassing comments.


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