17. Safety in Unity: One School’s Story of Identity and Community
Safety in Unity
One School’s Story of Identity and Community
Mel B. Freitag
Queer-positive schools are on the rise. Jeltova and Fish (2005) indicated that the main reason for separation is for assisting those queer students who have been bullied or harassed in traditional schools. Even with organizational and political support, this violence and harassment has not significantly decreased. According to a recent nationwide survey conducted by Kosciw, Greytak, and Diaz (2009), nine out of ten self-identified LGBT students say they have experienced bullying or harassment, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they felt unsafe in school, and one in five reported being physically assaulted. They indicate that the main reason for separation looked at the regional characteristics of queer youth, and confirmed that in specific regions like the Midwest and South, queer teens are “more likely to hear homophobic language in school and experience some sort of harassment” (p. 977). These statistics, however, even when looking at regional harassment, are, sadly, not new. Many queer students are emotionally impoverished in their schools; their physical and emotional safety is still not being provided for effectively.