LGBT students of color surveyed
NEW YORK, N.Y. — LGBT students of color face unique and diverse challenges regarding victimization at school, according to Shared Differences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students of Color in Our Nation’s Schools, a report from GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

The report documents the experiences of over 2,000 LGBT middle and high school students of color who are African-American or Black, Latino/a, Asian or Pacific Islander, Native American and multiracial, using 2007 data collected as part of GLSEN’s biennial survey of LGBT students, the National School Climate Survey, along with results from in-depth individual and group interviews.

Among the key findings:
• Across all groups, sexual orientation and gender expression were the most common reasons LGBT students of color reported feeling unsafe in school. More than four out of five students, within each racial/ethnic group, reported verbal harassment in school because of sexual orientation and about two-thirds because of gender expression. At least a third of each group reported physical violence in school because of sexual orientation.
• More than half of African American/Black, Latino/a, Asian/Pacific Islander, and multiracial students also reported verbal harassment in school based on their race or ethnicity.
• About a quarter of African-American/Black and Asian/Pacific Islander students had missed class or days of school in the past month because they felt unsafe. Latino/a, Native American, and multiracial students were even more likely to be absent for for safety reasons — about a third or more skipped class at least once or missed at least one day of school in the past month for safety reasons.
• Native American students experienced particularly high levels of victimization because of their religion, with more than half reporting the highest levels of verbal harassment (54 percent), and a quarter experiencing physical violence (26 percent).
• Less than half of students of color who had been harassed or assaulted in school in the past year said that they ever reported the incident to school staff. Furthermore, for those students who did report incidents to school staff, less than half believed that staff’s resulting response was effective.

Prop 8 lawsuit moves forward
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — In the last round of an expedited briefing schedule, final briefs were filed Jan. 21 in the trio of lawsuits challenging Proposition 8. More than 60 amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” briefs were filed in the case the week before. The amicus briefs, authored by professors from the most prominent universities and law schools in California and the country, highlight the breadth of support for overturning Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 passed with 52 percent of Californians voting in favor on Nov. 4. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the ACLU filed their legal challenge the following day, as did the City and County of San Francisco (joined subsequently by other local governments) and a private attorney. The California Supreme Court has stated that it may schedule oral argument as early as March.

Free trans workshop kit available
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Center for Transgender Equality has a created a new resource kit called Teaching Transgender to help LGBT activists plan and stage an educational workshop on trans equality at their local community centers, workplaces, schools, hospitals, communities of faith or anywhere else.

According to a statement posted at, where the kit can be found, “One of the most important things we can do for transgender rights is to educate people about the realities of our lives. This resource provides all of the information you’ll need, whether you are a new trainer or a veteran activist.” The resource kit is free to download and use.

New N.Y. senator a staunch ally
NEW YORK, N.Y. — National LGBT leaders hailed the news that Democratic state Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand had been selected by Gov. David Paterson to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who resigned as the state’s junior senator to assume her new position.

“Gov. Paterson’s pick of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand is a step forward for the LGBT community as she brings with her a strong record of support and understanding,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Gillibrand has already spoken out in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples; hate crimes protection legislation covering our entire community; fully inclusive employment non-discrimination legislation, and the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ As we advance pro-equality
legislation in the 111th Congress, we look forward to Senator Gillibrand’s support
and votes.”

David Stout is the former associate editor of QNotes.