First Study Since Safe Schools Law;
IPN Calls for Meaningful Implementation
Des Moines, IA – November 11 – Iowa Pride Network announced findings from its 2009 Iowa School Climate Survey (ISCS) today at the Iowa State Capitol. The 2009 survey is the first since the legislature passed the 2007 Safe Schools Law. The law requires schools to have anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies that protect all students including those that are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).
“The 2009 ISCS reveals that LGBT bullying and harassment remain commonplace,” said Iowa Pride Network Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ryan Roemerman; “But it also makes clear that the law works when it is meaningfully implemented.”
Key findings from the 2009 Iowa Pride Network School Climate Survey show:
Many students do not know about Iowa’s Safe Schools Law regarding Bullying and Harassment:
54.2% of respondents reported that they do not know what the Iowa Safe Schools law is
71.9% reported that their school has not adopted the law
89.2% reported that the law is not posted at their school
Iowa’s LGBT students continue to feel unsafe in school and face verbal and physical harassment or assault daily and are more likely to consider suicide:
87.5% (91% in 07) of LGBT students in Iowa reported hearing homophobic remarks frequently in their schools.
78.4% (80% in 07) of LGBT students report being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation.
37.5% (36% in 07) of Iowa LGBT students reported some incident of physical harassment (being pushed or shoved) because of their sexual orientation
20.5% (16% in 07) of students reported some incident of physical assault (being punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) because of their sexual orientation or gender expression.
56% of LGBT students are more likely than their straight peers to report that they had considered committing suicide
Three high school students,who attended the press conference, detailed their experiences as a LGBT or straight allied individual in Iowa schools. Stephen Wayne Boatwright, a senior at Hoover High School spoke of how he is fearful to walk down the halls after having glue smeared all over his locker. He is allergic to adhesives. Jozie Butler, a freshman at Southeast Polk High School, explained how she has been called names because of having gay friends. Evan Hay, a senior at Southeast Polk High School described how she is no longer allowed to attend her favorite class because a teacher is uncomfortable with her sexual orientation.
Despite their hardships, the students expressed their commitment to help educate others about how they can change their school’s climates.
“While I have been harassed, I know I have friends that support me. I also know that not all students have the support that I do. That is why I am here today, to let students know that they aren’t alone—and that there is a law that protects them,” stated Boatwright.
The study did find some areas of progress: Fewer students report being verbally harassed and more teachers and students are intervening when homophobic remarks are made in their presence. Most notably it found that in schools where the law was known by the student to have been adopted, students were 40% less likely to report hearing homophobic remarks used frequently or often in their schools.
“Bullying and harassment often starts with verbal harassment and often ends in physical violence. This law, if implemented can stop bullying and harassment before it starts,” explained Roemerman.
Iowa Pride Network is calling on schools to adopt programs that are recommended within the law, such as having student organizations that reduce harassment and trainings for teachers and students regarding the law. To educate students, Iowa Pride Network has created a “Make it Real” manual that will help students understand how to make the law real in their schools. The manual details how schools must follow the law and stop harassment and how students should report harassment when it happens.
“Our hope is that the manual will assist schools’ efforts in educating their students on the law.” Adding that, “Every one of us, students, schools, communities—must do all we can to create safe schools. We have the tools. We must have the resolve.”
View the 2009 Iowa School Climate Survey
View the “Make it Real” Manual
The 2009 Iowa Pride Network School Climate Survey included responses from 203 LGBT, allied and non-allied high school students from 69 schools across the state. This biennial statewide survey is the only survey that measures the levels of racism, homophobia and sexism in Iowa schools. This is the third survey Iowa Pride Network has released since 2005. Key findings, the complete survey and additional information about methodology and demographics may be obtained by calling the Iowa Pride Network at 515-243-1110 or by visiting www.iowapridenetwork.org.
About Iowa Pride Network
Iowa Pride Network works directly with LGBTA youth to cultivate advocates and leaders who fight homophobia and transphobia and strive for social justice.