Half Of Elementary School Teachers Hear Homophobic Language From Kids, National Study Says
It doesn’t take the first ever national study of homophobia in elementary school students to convince me that prejudice starts young. But the aforementioned data aptly titled Playgrounds and Prejudices has arrived and the numbers reveal all kinds of concerning, anti-LGBTQ words that kids are hurling at one another. And not only are teachers hearing every syllable of this discriminatory language, they’re also not doing anything about it.
This unprecedented study surveyed a little over 1,000 students from third through sxith grade, as well as a little over 1,000 teachers to reveal that 45% of kids and 49% of teachers regularly heard the word “gay” as negative criticism — as in “that’s so gay.” About a quarter of both teachers and students consistently hear “fag” or “lesbo” being used about the halls as well as racist comments. Three-fourths of kids surveyed said that they are bullied in some capacity while at school with almost a quarter citing their nonconformity to gender roles as the reason, and 21% adding that it’s because other students think that they’re gay. About one in ten of these kids said that don’t always follow gender norms with regard to the whole pink and blue code of social conduct, and these kids were overwhelming more likely to feel less safe at school.
So how precisely are teachers responding to blatant homophobia springing from the mouths of babes? Considering what these men and women see everyday, it’s not surprising that less than half of them believe that a gender nonconforming student would feel comfortable going to school. The majority seem to have their sympathies with the teased “seemingly gay” children, as 83% find it their absolute obligation to maintain a safe learning environment for non gender-conforming kids, and another 70% say the same about children who happen to come from LGBTQ families. But even though 85% of teachers have received formal training on “diversity” and “multicultural issues,” less than half (37%) received any training about gender issues and less than a quarter (23%) on how to handle kids from same-sex parents.