There was a time when the idea of creating a desirable school climate was practically redundant because there were few, if any, obstacles. “In the earliest public schools, teachers taught and students listened,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has written approvingly about that simpler era in American education. “Teachers commanded, and students obeyed.”
In the modern era, however, maintaining a good school climate is a continuing challenge for teachers, administrators, and policymakers.
There are multiple definitions of school climate, but most revolve around the environment affecting students and teachers. The University-Community Partnerships at Michigan State University defines a comprehensive school climate as a physical environment that is welcoming and conducive to learning, a social environment that promotes communication and interaction, an “affective” environment that promotes a sense of belonging and self-esteem, and an academic environment that promotes learning and self-fulfillment.
The National School Climate Center, a New York City-based research and advocacy organization, says that a positive school climate is one where norms, values, and expectations support people feeling socially, emotionally, and physically safe; students and others are engaged and respected; educators model and nurture attitudes that emphasize the benefits of learning; and each member of the school community contributes to the operations of the school and the care of its physical environment.
Such definitions are helpful as ideals, but at many schools there is still a wide gulf between the goal and the reality. This section of Story Starters discusses how students, teachers, administrators, and policymakers navigate and shape the climate on school campuses.
Consider the most basic element of a good school climate—one that is free of violence and disruption. In the 2009-10 school year, 85 percent of public schools recorded one or more incidents of violence, theft, or other crimes, according to the “Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011.” That report is a compendium of statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the U.S. Department of Justice. The report says there were some 1.9 million crimes committed at schools during that academic year.
Also during that year, there were 33 violent deaths at schools, and students age 12-18 were the victims of some 828,000 non-fatal “victimization” incidents, including 470,000 thefts and 359,000 violent incidents.
While those figures are sobering (and there are many more in the report), the silver lining is that in several important categories school violence was on the downswing. The 33 violent deaths in 2009-10 were down from a recent peak of 63, in 2006-07. Meanwhile, the rate of non-fatal victimization for students 12-18 (incidents per 1,000 students) has been on a steady downswing since 1992.
While statistics present a cold look at trends in school safety, an ambitious journalistic effort can bring such numbers to life. In 2011, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a multi-part series that detailed how a climate of violence was stifling the city’s public schools. The “Assault on Learning” series included vivid images of high school girls smearing Vaseline on their faces and donning scarves before engaging in a planned fight. Such measures would help keep their skin from scarring and their hair from being pulled out. On an average day, 25 students, teachers, or other staff members in the 146,000-student district were beaten, robbed, sexually assaulted, or were the victims of other crimes, the paper reported.
For the series, which won the Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service in the spring of 2012, the Inquirer developed a database and calculated a violence rate for each public school. One particularly disturbing part of the series found that young children, from kindergartners to 10-year-olds, “have been assaulting and threatening classmates and staff members with increasing ferocity and sophistication.”
The newspaper found that effective violence-prevention programs were flourishing “in small pockets,” but the school district “has failed to replicate them on a large scale.”
Another key challenge to a safe school climate is bullying, the age-old intimidation tactics that can rise to the level of violent incident but often wreaks subtler, more insidious damage. There have been renewed efforts in the past few years to address the scourge of bullying in school classrooms, hallways, and playgrounds, as well as in that newer neighborhood where young people hang out—cyberspace.
According to the “Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011” report, about 28 percent of students aged 12-18 reported being bullied in school. Common categories included being taunted or insulted; being pushed, shoved, or spit on; being the subject of rumors; being threatened with harm; being made to do things the student didn’t want to do; and being excluded from activities.
For this age group of middle school and high school students, 6th graders reported the highest proportion of being bullied (39 percent), with the proportion declining each grade through 12th, which had a 20 percent rate of students facing bullying.
As for the newer phenomenon of cyberbullying, the federal report found that about 6 percent of students 12-18 reported facing such a problem anywhere (inside or outside of school) during the 2008-09 year. Cyberbullying was defined as reporting that another student posted hurtful information about them on the Internet; or harassed them via online instant-messaging services, SMS text messages, e-mail, or while playing games online. Harassing text messages were the largest category of cyberbullying, with 3 percent of students reporting experiencing them, the federal report said.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have drawn attention to the problem of bullying, leading White House conferences and promoting multi-agency responses at the federal level. “Bullying is definable,” Duncan said at a 2010 federal bullying prevention summit meeting. “It has a common definition and a legal definition in many states. Good prevention programs work to reduce bullying. And bullying is very much an education priority that goes to the heart of school performance and school culture.”
The Education Department’s office for civil rights took the stance in 2010 that a school’s failure to properly respond to bullying could amount to a violation of a student’s civil rights. Many lawmakers at the state and federal level believe that more protection is needed.
Most states have some form of anti-bullying legislation on their books, but many have sought to strengthen their protections. New Jersey, for example, has a law requiring each school to have an anti-bullying specialist and to report incidents of the behavior to the state. Other provisions in a new crop of state anti-bullying measures include expanding the definition to include cyberbullying, increasing protections for victims of bullying and those who report incidents, and requiring professional development for teachers and awareness programs for students on the issue.
According to a 2011 federal Education Department report, 46 states have anti-bullying laws, and 45 of those laws direct school districts to adopt policies to combat bullying. One conclusion of the report is that “one of the most significant challenges to legislation has been in defining what types of behavior, and what conditions, constitute school bullying (e.g., what actions, what frequency, intent, location, and what degree of harm to victims), which can take place under often varied and difficult-to-define circumstances. Since there is no standard definition of bullying that is universally accepted in the research field or at the federal level, the states must establish their own definitions through legislative debate and administrative action.” Meanwhile, at the federal level, Congress in 2011 and 2012 was considering its own measures to combat bullying. One measure, sponsored by Senators Robert Casey, D-Pa., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., would require federally funded school districts to establish codes of conduct that prohibit bullying and harassment, including on the basis of students’ sexual orientation or gender identity. The measure, called the Safe Schools Improvement Act, also would require states to report bullying statistics to the federal Education Department. Another measure, by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., would add specific anti-bullying protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students. In April 2012, President Obama publicly endorsed the two measures, though they had not moved forward as of June 2012.
On a related front for gay and lesbian issues in schools, the president participated in the “It Gets Better” project, a series of public service announcements aiming a positive message at gay young people, especially those who have considered suicide. “We’ve got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage, that it’s some inevitable part of growing up,” President Obama said in his 2010 contribution. “It’s not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all of our kids.”
The It Gets Better campaign underscores that bullying and discrimination against gay and lesbian students in school is not condoned or tolerated to the degree it was perhaps just a generation ago. But a major study of the school climate for LGBT teenagers suggests there is still work to be done. Just a few years ago, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, a resource for students, teachers, and others, published its most exhaustive look at the issue, titled “The 2009 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools.” The study reports that schools nationwide remain “hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBT students—almost all of whom commonly hear homophobic remarks and face verbal and physical harassment and even physical assault because of their sexual orientation or gender expression.”
Nearly 89 percent of LGBT students in the survey had frequently or often heard the term “gay” used negatively at school, such as in the phrase “That’s so gay.” Some 72 percent heard other homophobic remarks frequently at school. Forty percent of survey respondents reported being physically harassed, such as being pushed or shoved, at school in the previous year because of their sexual orientation. Some 19 percent of respondents reported more serious physical assaults based on their sexual orientation.
Some 64 percent of students did not feel confident reporting such harassment to school officials because they did not think it would be taken seriously. And about one-third of all respondents said they had reported bullying or other harassment and that school officials had done nothing.
The report outlined problems of higher absenteeism, lowered educational aspirations, and poorer psychological well-being among gay and lesbian youths who had faced such situations in school.
On a positive note, the study outlines that students at schools with gay-straight alliances (student support clubs), gay-positive curricula, and supportive educators faced fewer instances of harassment and bullying.
GLSEN also reports that looking back as far as its first climate survey in 1999, there has been a decline in the hearing of homophobic remarks in school (though the rate has been steady in more recent years), there has been a significant increase in the number of gay-straight alliances as that movement spread across the country, and there has been a significant increase in the number of educators who are supportive of LGBT students.
There are other significant issues raised in the context of the school climate question—student mobility, sex discrimination, social support and counseling for students. The complexity of the topic underscores that American schools are far removed from the era when “teachers taught and students listened.” — Mark Walsh, June 2012
Highlighted journalism and reports for this topic
Decades of sleep research have confirmed what parents know: It's hard for teenagers to wake up early. Some high schools have adopted late starts around 8:30 a.m. to improve attendance and performance. But other districts say it's too complicated to shift schedules because of logistics involving buses and after-school activities. (The Associated Press)Read More »
The U.S. Justice and Education departments said Wednesday that a transgender California student who is anatomically female but lives life as a male must be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities designed for boys.Read More »
The first-of-its-kind decision from the agencies tasks the Arcadia school district outside Los Angeles to change district policies and practices to accommodate the rising ninth-grade student. (Politico)
The Agriculture Department said Thursday that for the first time it will make sure that all foods sold in the nation's 100,000 schools are healthier by expanding fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits to almost everything sold during the school day.
That includes snacks sold around the school and foods on the "a la carte" line in cafeterias, which never have been regulated before. The new rules, proposed in February and made final this week, also would allow states to regulate student bake sales. (Associated Press)Read More »
As the first generation of overparented kids continues to graduate into the world, a slew of studies now show that youngsters whose parents intervene inappropriately -- offering advice, removing obstacles and solving problems that kids should tackle themselves -- actually wind up as anxious, narcissistic young adults who have trouble coping with the demands of life. (NBC News)Read More »
Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson can move forward with plans to close 15 D.C. schools, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, rejecting activists’ claims that the closures violate the civil rights of city children. (The Washington Post)Read More »
Los Angeles Unified has become the first school district in the state to ban defiance as grounds for suspension. (Los Angeles Times)Read More »
Since the early 1990s, thousands of districts, often with federal subsidies, have paid local police agencies to provide armed “school resource officers” for high schools, middle schools and sometimes even elementary schools. Hundreds of additional districts, including those in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, have created police forces of their own, employing thousands of sworn officers.Read More »
These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the A.D.H.D. diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children. (The New York Times)Read More »
South Dakota became the first state in the nation to enact a law explicitly authorizing school employees to carry guns on the job, under a measure signed into law on Friday by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. (NY Times)Read More »
South Dakota became the first state in the nation to enact a law explicitly authorizing school employees to carry guns on the job, under a measure signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. (The New York Times)Read More »
A new study explores what happens to students who aren't allowed to suffer through setbacks. (The Atlantic)Read More »
School districts in L.A., New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Orlando, Fla., plan to announce Thursday efforts to use their collective clout — 2.5 million daily meals served and $530 million annually spent — to make wholesome food a national standard. The districts are also aiming for more eco-friendly practices — replacing polystyrene and plasticwith biodegradable trays and flatware, for instance..(Los Angeles Times)Read More »
Behind a locked classroom door, a Los Angeles third-grade teacher purportedly committed lewd acts against students. The charges spurred demands for classrooms to remain open during the school day.
But after the shooting deaths of 20 first-graders in Connecticut last month, calls were made to keep classrooms locked.
The intent of both efforts is to keep students safe. But as school districts nationwide examine their security measures following the Newtown, Conn., massacre, the question of locked versus unlocked classroom doors is in debate. Should teachers and administrators use their secured doors as a shield from an outside danger? (Los Angeles Times)Read More »
These issues are at the heart of the 2013 edition of Education Week’s Quality Counts report: Code of Conduct: Safety, Discipline, and School Climate.
A collaboration between the Education Week newsroom and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, Quality Counts 2013 investigates the impact of a school’s social and disciplinary environment on students’ ability to learn and on the teachers and administrators tasked with guiding them. The report’s journalism takes an in-depth look at a range of school-climate factors—including strong and positive peer interactions, a sense of safety and security, and school disciplinary policies and practices—that help to lay the groundwork for student achievement. (Education Week)Read More »
Until recently, it seemed a foregone conclusion that body armor, like guns and knives, had no place in schools. Five years ago, there was no such thing as a bulletproof backpack, Uy said, and bulletproof vests were merely precautions for kids who hunted with their parents.
But reinforced backpacks have become more popular since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 and the gradual rise of the “prepper” movement, a subculture obsessed with preparations for the end of the world. (The Washington Post)Read More »
This is an EdMedia Commons summary and story portal concerning the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Accounts and takeaways by Education Week, ABC News, CBS News, USA Today, among others, are featured.Read More »
A Hechinger Report analysis of private school demographics (using data compiled on the National Center for Education Statistics website) found that more than 35 such academies survive in Mississippi, many of them in rural Delta communities like Indianola. Each of the schools was founded between 1964 and 1972 in response to anticipated or actual desegregation orders, and all of them enroll fewer than two percent black students. (The number of Mississippi "segregation academies" swells well above 35 if schools where the black enrollment is between three and 10 percent are counted.) At some of them -- including Benton Academy near Yazoo City and Carroll Academy near Greenwood -- not a single black student attended in 2010, according to the most recent data. Others, like Indianola Academy, have a small amount of diversity. (The Hechinger Report)Read More »
John Jay Science and Engineering Academy started making students carry "smart ID" badges implanted with microchips this fall to ensure they are counted as present, since some state funding is tied to student attendance.
But Andrea Hernandez, a 15-year old sophomore at the magnet school for exceptional students, filed a federal-court petition on Nov. 30 seeking to be excluded from the program. She argues that as an evangelical Christian, she can't wear the badge because it is a sign of submission to a secular ruling authority, a form of idolatry she says is prohibited in the Bible's New Testament. (The Wall Street Journal)Read More »
Evidence is still limited—but growing—that some chemicals can boost attention, memory, concentration, and other abilities related to academic performance. Researchers at the Society of Neuroscience conference here questioned whether it is safe and fair to allow healthy people to boost their brain function chemically, or use drugs to correct environmental factors like poverty or bad instruction that can lead to brain deficits similar to those that characterize medical conditions like attention-deficit disorders. (Ed Week)Read More »
The first of some 20 federal investigations into racial disparity in school district discipline practices closed today, yielding a long-term, prescriptive plan for change in the Oakland public schools, a district in which black students made up 32 percent of enrollments last school year but accounted for 63 percent of all suspensions. (Ed Week)Read More »
The share of kindergartners whose parents opted out of state immunization requirements more than doubled in the decade that ended in 2008, peaking at 7.6 percent in the 2008-9 school year, according to the state’s Health Department, raising alarm among public health experts. But last year, the Legislature adopted a law that makes it harder for parents to avoid getting their children vaccinated, by requiring them to get a doctor’s signature if they wish to do so. Since then, the opt-out rate has fallen fast, by a quarter, setting an example for other states with easy policies. (The New York Times)Read More »
Fuentes’ pre-kindergarten son sits down to lunch in New Orleans at 9:45 a.m. and her first-grade daughter eats at 10:20 a.m. Similarly, at a school in Florida's Seminole County, lunch starts as early as 9 a.m. and a middle school in Queens, N.Y., recently announced it will be serving students lunch at 9:45 a.m. On this month’s early morning menu: mozzarella sticks, penne pasta and roasted chicken. (NBC Today)Read More »
But a new partnership among Los Angeles city, police and school officials aims to support — rather than punish — students like Garcia before it's too late. In a decisive step away from the zero tolerance policies of the 1990s, Los Angeles school police have agreed to stop issuing citations to truant students and instead refer them to city youth centers for educational counseling and other services to help address their academic struggles. (Los Angeles Times)Read More »
The attendance push has been particularly strong in California, New York, Texas and other states where schools funding is based on how many children are in their seats each day, rather than enrollment. Several California districts have made a back-to-school ritual of reminding parents that schools lose money whenever kids are out.Read More »
Some have asked families with children who missed school for avoidable reasons such as family trips to reimburse schools the $30-$50 a day the absence cost in lost funding, or at least consider having a child with the sniffles or a stomach ache show up for the first part of the day so he or she can be counted before going home sick. (Associated Press)
To make friends, it turns out, children need to be able to carry out sophisticated social maneuvers, screening potential pals for certain positive qualities and making careful assessments about how much common ground they share. And in order to be a good friend—the kind that inspires loyalty and dedication—even a very young child must be not only fun to spend time with, but capable of being emotionally mature in ways that can be difficult even for grown-ups. (The Boston Globe)Read More »
"A new analysis of Census data by the real-estate services company Trulia Inc. shows that the quality of schools remains a crucial factor in where parents choose to buy homes. Of course, schools have always been closely tied to real-estate sales, but Trulia’s findings indicate that despite the collapse of the housing market, education is sometimes even more important than factors such as price, commute time and nearby amenities." (The Wall Street Journal)Read More »
Eight years after California settled a landmark lawsuit promising hundreds of millions of dollars to repair shoddy school facilities, more than 700 schools still are waiting for their share of funds as students take classes on dilapidated campuses with health and safety hazards.
California has funded less than half of the $800 million required by the Emergency Repair Program, which grew out of a class-action lawsuit against the state that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to settle. (California Watch)Read More »
This shortfall in mathematical preparation for college-bound students has existed for a long time, but it is being exacerbated by the increased use of technology. College-level math classes almost never use graphing calculators, while high-school classes invariably do. College professors want their students to understand abstract concepts; technology advocates claim their products help teach students such abstractions, but in practice they simply don’t. (Slate)Read More »
This webpage compiles links to EdWeek’s coverage of bullying. (Education Week)Read More »
After Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge, anti-bullying advocates and others were quick to attribute his death to cyberbullying from his roommate Dharun Ravi, who used a webcam to spy on Clementi with a guest in their room. This exhaustively reported article shows that—in this case and others—the blame perhaps is not so easy to place. (The New Yorker)Read More »
This article offers an unflinching look at how brutal bullying can be for LGBT students, focusing in particular in a “suicide cluster” in the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota. As the debate in the story’s comments sections makes clear, allegations of bullying within mid-sized or smaller towns can be controversial and hard to resolve. (Rolling Stone)Read More »
EWA 2012 National Reporting Contest winner. Many articles explore the effect poverty has on student academic outcomes. This investigative report went further and explored a community of homeless students, telling the stories of youth dealing with a welter of issues beyond academics. (Quad-City Times)Read More »
The Philadelphia Inquirer education team won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of violence in the city’s schools. Their interactive site offers school-by-school databases for incidents of violence in addition to stories that includes an analysis of how even kindergarteners can be the perpetrators and victims of severe campus violence. The articles also are available as printable PDFs. (Philadelphia Inquirer)Read More »
During a conference to examine ways that schools and communities could work to prevent bullying, both the president and first lady offered personal remarks. “No child should feel that alone,” President Obama said. “We’ve got to make sure our young people know that if they’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help and young adults that can help; that even if they’re having a tough time, they’re going to get through it, and there’s a whole world full of possibility waiting for them.” (White House)Read More »
This web page from the Education Writers Association offers links to resources and news coverage on various aspects of bullying, from attacks on LGBT students to cyberbullying. (EWA)Read More »
EWA 2010 National Reporting Contest winner. Studies increasingly show chronic truancy is a telltale sign that a student is on the road to dropping out of school. So what can schools do about it? This feature examines the sleight of hand students come up with to play hooky, and the steps schools could take to combat the high rates of ditching class. (San Francisco Weekly)Read More »
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Reports & Data
Notable research on this topic
Research brief from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network offers recommendations for how schools can make their climate more supportive for LGBT students. It states that “By including LGBT-related content in their curriculum, educators can send a message that they are a source of support for LGBT students." (GLSEN)Read More »
This report examines what sorts of policies states use to address bullying. It found that “from 1999 to 2010, more than 120 bills were enacted by state legislatures nationally that have either introduced or amended education or criminal justice statutes to address bullying and related behaviors in schools.” (U.S. Department of Education)Read More »
This report is a comprehensive and wide-ranging compendium of statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Its “Key Findings” section is a go-to source for quick summaries of the numbers of different types of crimes reported during the school year. (NCES/DOJ)Read More »
This letter from Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali was issued to advise school administrators on how bullying could be addressed under existing federal laws. The letter notes that “by limiting its response to a specific application of its anti‐bullying disciplinary policy, a school may fail to properly consider whether the student misconduct also results in discriminatory harassment.”Read More »
In the summer of 2010, several U.S. Cabinet departments held a summit to discuss ways they could collaborate to help the federal government to stem what was seen as a rising tide of bullying in the nation’s schools. Education Secretary Duncan spoke with the group, stating “bullying is doubly dangerous because if left unattended it can rapidly escalate into even more serious violence and abuse. Just as you have gateway drugs, bullying is gateway behavior.”Read More »
The 2009 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Youth in Our Schools2010
This report offers detailed statistics on the types of harassment and abuse that LGBT students reported experiencing in school. “Schools nationwide are hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBT students — almost all of whom commonly hear homophobic remarks and face verbal and physical harassment and even physical assault because of their sexual orientation or gender expression,” notes the report as a key finding.” (GLSEN)Read More »
This report considers the educational consequences of the considerable racial segregation that remains in schools today and the potential of controlled choice to address them. It begins with an extensive review of research regarding the effects of school integration. Previous research provides relatively strong evidence that desegregation helps minority students reach higher academic achievement and better long-term outcomes such as college attendance and employment. (Center for American Progress)Read More »
For an overview of school climate as an issue, see the Best Practice Brief on the topic by University-Community Partnerships at Michigan State University.Read More »
Five Questions to Ask
- What are your local school district’s policies about reporting and recording incidents of violence within the schools? How frequently are student perpetrators referred to juvenile authorities? What is the relationship between the school system and the local police department (such as whether school resource officers report to the district or to the municipal police department)?
- How does your state law define bullying in schools? What programs does the school district have in place?
- Do schools in your area have gay-straight alliances? Do the schools utilize gay-friendly curricular and support materials?
- What are your school’s policies regarding students’ behavior on social networks and other forms of digital communication, both on- and off-campus? What are the policies for employees, particularly those governing their interactions with students in cyberspace?
- What kinds of counseling and support services do the schools you cover offer to students? How long have these employees worked on this particular campus and approximately how much time can they spend with individual students? What are the issues they have to address most frequently?
The Cyberbullying Research Center “serves as a clearinghouse of information concerning the ways adolescents use and misuse technology.” Since it went online in 2005, the website—founded by two criminal justice professors—has been gathering news and other resources that could assist reporters covering the topic of digital bullying.
The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network “strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.” In addition to researching and compiling data regarding the school lives of LGBT students, the network also advocates actively on their behalf.
The National School Climate Center, headquartered in New York City, focuses on the issue of creating a “positive and sustained school climate: a safe, supportive environment that nurtures social and emotional, ethical, and academic skills.” The center originally was founded in 1996 as part of the Teachers College, Columbia University.
National School Safety and Security Services is a consulting service that frequently works with schools to improve their campus safety, and crisis and emergency practices.
The National School Safety Center “identifies and promotes strategies, promising practices and programs that support safe schools for all students as part of the total academic mission.” The NSSC worked with the U.S. Justice Department to create campus safety guidelines and practices for institutions following the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University. The organization also works heavily with K-12 schools.
President Obama: It Gets Better is part of a national campaign started in 2010 to reassure gay and lesbian teens—who face disproportionate bullying and commit suicide at higher than average rates—that they could overcome the abuse and other struggles. (The text of this post was written by the White House deputy director of public engagement.)
Suggest a Change
If you'd like to suggest an addition or change to this section, send an email to EWA Project Director Kenneth Terrell.