The students of Beethoven Elementary School in Mar Vista faced an arch of purple balloons as they rallied against bullying. The event, held Thursday by the Los Angeles Unified School District, was part of GLAAD’s Spirit Day, an annual event to show lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students that they have support from their schools and communities.
GLAAD puts on Spirit Day events every October because it’s Bullying Prevention Month in the U.S., and one population that faces high rates of bullying and victimizations is LGBT students.
Across the country, more than half of LGBT students have felt unsafe at school, according to a national survey published in 2013 by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
It’s not just students who are making the school experience worse for their LGBT peers. Schools themselves discriminate against LGBT students through discipline and other policies. LGBT students reported that they were disciplined for actions that other students wouldn’t be punished for, such as showing public affection or attending a school dance with a date of the same gender.
Almost 1 in 5 said they had been “prevented from wearing clothes of another gender” or clothes that express support for LGBT issues. Smaller numbers of students reported that they were prevented from forming Gay Straight Alliance clubs, using their preferred names, or writing about LGBT issues for class assignments and projects.
Bullying and discrimination led LGBT students to avoid spaces such as bathrooms or even hallways that are necessary to learning and thriving in school.
Reach Sonali Kohli on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli or by email at Sonali.Kohli@latimes.com.