UO professor explores LGBTQ violence in schools

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Julie Heffernan, UO education professor and co-chair of the Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition, was featured in the Washington, D.C. publication Metro Weekly for her research on rising LGBTQ violence in Oregon schools.

According to Metro Weekly, Heffernan surveyed 600 schools and 27,000 students to determine that LGBTQ students felt unsafe because of verbal, physical, psychological and sexual violence.

Heffernan uncovered that LGBTQ students were three times more likely to miss school because of fear, and that 1 in 5 transgender students had been threatened with a weapon at school.

“The focus on the well-being of LGBTQ youth has impacts for all young people,” Heffernan said. “The findings and recommendations included in this report are urgent, given our current political climate where we’re seeing many public challenges to civil rights and troubling examples of bullying and violence aimed at marginalized communities.”

In addition to gathering data, the study aimed to improve safety in schools. This includes “administrative oversight for anti-bullying policies, inclusive curriculum, trauma-informed classrooms, educator training and student support through groups like gay-straight alliances,” says Metro Weekly.

This data has brought with it much new information. Previously, survey questions were not specific enough to address sexual identity; however, Heffernan and her team fixed this issue with the 2017 survey.

To read the full article about Heffernan’s work, see “Report: LGBTQ students in Oregon experiencing rise in violence and harassment.”