Seeking a safe space

New report finds high rates of bullying among LGBTQ+ youth

Infographic by Diana Baker

A report based on research done in 2017 shows that LGBTQ+ middle school and high school students in Oregon experience more bullying than their peers do.

The report was carried out by the Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition, which works to reduce youth suicide in the LGBTQ+ community. It was authored by June Heffernan, the co-chair of the Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition, and Tina Gutierez-Schmich, the equity director in the Bethel School District.

The results of the report showed that sexual orientation and gender identity, referred to as SOGI, minority students in Oregon “are at a significantly high risk for bullying, school-based violence, sexual assault, absences from school, and suicidal ideation.”

In 2017, 35 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming high school students experienced bullying, and 47 percent of LGB 11th graders contemplated suicide.

Valerie Hoffman, who has been the president of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at Lane Community College, said that GSAs are vital safe spaces in high schools, where bullying is especially rampant.

“People who don’t support safe spaces don’t understand that we have safe spaces because we had to deal with harmful pains our whole lives,” she said.

She added that when she was in high school, her GSA could have prevented instances of bullying if it had included more adults, including faculty and administration members.

The GSA at LCC remains a safe space for LGBTQ+ students. Its Facebook and email contacts can be accessed on LCC’s website.