Missouri schools were unsafe for LGBT students in 2013

Nov 17, 2014

A National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network revealed that Missouri secondary schools were not safe for LGBT student in 2013.

More than nine in ten LGBT students in the survey experienced verbal harassment, four in ten were physically harassed and one in ten were physically assaulted.

Missouri currently has anti-bullying laws in effect but no specific groups are listed in the laws and no fully enumerated anti-bullying or nondiscrimination laws have been passed.

Missouri and South Dakota are the only two states in the nation that prohibit public schools from having enumerated policies, which allows laws to be passed to prohibit bullying of students based on sexual orientation.

Charles Abernathy is a media spokesman for southwest Missouri's resource center called Glo Center. He believes that these restrictions are preventing us from doing everything possible to protect these students.

"I think it speaks volumes that we are one in just a few states that prohibit enumerated categories," said Abernathy. "So I think that says a lot about where we are at and where we need to go in protecting our students."

Chair of GLSEN Springfield Amanda Derham has her own theories about why  Missouri has yet to allow these laws.

"They believe if you enumerate this law this creates special classes of students that will receive protection while we are ignoring other students that don't really fit in that special class," said Derham. "Enumerating these policies does not create special classes that create special protection what it does it allows teachers to have some grounds to really intervene.  "

Columbia public schools believe they are doing what they can to help protect their students.  Public Relations director Michelle Baumstark says that they are taking all the preventative measures they can.

"We have a non-discrimination policy in place that specifically identifies related to sex and gender so any of those types of behaviors are not acceptable we have a disciplinary policy in place to protect our students," said Baumstark.

According to their website, GLSEN believes enumeration is essential to establish anti-bullying policies that effectively protect students.