A second study released by gay rights advocates shows gay and lesbian students in Iowa schools are subjected to taunts and harassment. “Iowa Pride Network” director Ryan Roemerman says a November study asked gay and lesbian students about school life, but this latest survey asked the straight friends of gay and lesbian kids what happens in school. “What this clearly shows is that gay students are the students (who) are being singled out for harassment and assault,” Roememan says. “The straight students…confirm this.”
According to the survey, 94 percent of straight students in Iowa heard “homophobic” remarks in their schools, and 18 percent of the students said those kind of remarks came from their teachers or school staff. The survey found gay and lesbian students were slightly more likely than straight students to have some of their property — like their car, clothing or a book — damaged or stolen at school. “What we’ve clearly seen is just being a friend of a gay student increases the likelihood that you’ll be threatened,” Roemerman says.
Roemerman is among those who’re asking legislators to pass a state law that would require schools to write policies that crack down on harassment of gay and lesbian students. “Hopefully these reports will help shed light on what so many students already know in Iowa high schools which is that gay students are specifically harassed,” he says. But the anti-bullying bill Roemerman seeks won’t become law this year as Republican leaders in the legislature say schools already have codes of conduct for students which forbid bullying.