TWIN FALLS — Most of the Idaho youth who took part in a national survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer teenagers say they regularly hear homophobic remarks at school.
The Times-News reported the findings consistent with the national results of GLSEN’s 2017 “National School Climate Survey.” The organization was previously called the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Network but now goes by the acronym, which organization members pronounce “glisten.”
The survey, conducted every other year, included more than 23,000 students nationwide, including 191 in Idaho. Of the Idaho students surveyed, 84 percent said they regularly hear homophobic remarks at school and 74 percent regularly hear negative remarks about transgender people.
In a statement released last month, the network said the survey results show Idaho schools are unsafe for most gay or transgender students.
Twin Falls School District Superintendent Brady Dickinson said it is unfortunate that any group of students would feel unwelcome at school.
“Kids are kids, so you are going to have times when students say or do things that are maybe not as accepting,” he said, adding that it is the job of educators to address those issues and educate students on the proper way to interact.
If harassment or bullying occurs “it’s our job as schools to make sure that’s not happening,” Dickinson said.
Some Idaho school districts, including the Twin Falls District, have adopted policies intended to protect students regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Twin Falls policy allows students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to the gender identity they consistently assert at school. Students can also use a private restroom if they wish.
The policy is based on guidelines provided by the Idaho School Boards Association to school districts.