by April Hawkins | Why is school bullying an important issue for each of us?
Creating a safe learning environment paves the way for the future. We want to see LGBT youth succeed as adults, and promoting safety in schools is the first step. An inclusive learning environment helps engage LGBT students in the educational process and provides them with the tools they need to lead successful lives in the future. Kids who suffer from bullying at school are more likely to skip school or drop out completely.
Staying in school helps our LGBT youth lead successful and fulfilling careers in the future. The average annual income for a high school dropout in 2009 was $19,540, compared to $27,380 for a high school graduate. In the long run, an individual with a college degree is expected to make $1 million more in their lifetime than someone who didn’t finish high school.
High school dropouts are three times as likely to be unemployed than someone with a bachelors degree. Add to that a high unemployment rate, and the motivation for staying in school is clear. People with some high school face a 14.9% unemployment rate. The number drops to 10.9% with a high school diploma or equivalent, and plummets to 5.4% with a Bachelor’s degree.
Our economic future depends on their success. According to a recent report, 12 million students will likely drop out over the next decade, resulting in a loss to the nation of $1.5 trillion. An article in the Huffington post quoted a worrisome figure: a student drops out of high school every 26 seconds in the U.S. If the students who dropped out of the Class of 2011 had graduated, the nation’s economy would likely benefit from nearly $154 billion in additional income over the course of their lifetimes.
What can we do?
- Be aware that bullying against LGBT youth is still on the rise. Learn more about the effects of bullying and warning signs on the Department of Education’s website.
- Pledge to the It Gets Better project.
- Reach out to local schools and promote the creation of programs on respect, school safety, and anti-bullying or assembly discussions about LGBT prejudice.
- Partner with an organization like GSA Network or GLSEN to act locally.
- If you’re involved with a spiritual community, reach out to your spiritual leader and ask him or her to publicly address the issue.
- In California, support the FAIR Education Act.