An Iowa State University psychologist says research shows few schools have policies which discourage students from harassing gay and lesbian classmates.Dr. Carolyn Cutrona, interim director of the Institute for Social and Behavioral Research at Iowa State, says it’s most important that students of all types feel safe in school and disrespectful taunting needs immediate reaction by staff so there’s a “zero tolerance policy.”She says even in elementary schools students says “that’s so gay” to indicate something that’s undesirable. She says most teachers and staff ignore such comments.Cutrona’s daughter is lesbian, and she says kids like her daughter are hurt everytime they hear a slur about gays or lesbians. She says this type of language is absolutely unacceptable.Cutrona will speak at a forum tonight in Ames to discuss ways to address harassment of gay and lesbian students. Cutrona says just a handful of Iowa schools have rules which forbid harassment or discrimination against gays and lesbians. She says the state of Massachusetts implemented a number of measures after a high number of suicides by gay students. She says one of those measures was to add sexual orientation to their harassment policies.Tonight’s forum is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Iowa Schools Task Force and starts at 6:30 in the Ames City Hall. An attorney for the School Administrators of Iowa will also speak, as will Nick Pace, the University of Northern Iowa’s student teaching coordinator who taught and was a principal in several rural Iowa schools.
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