The Safe Schools Project was a five-year, statewide qualitative study examining the phenomenon of anti-gay harassment and violence in schools, kindergarten through grade twelve. All the incidents and patterns of harassment we analyzed occurred at school or at least partly on school property, on the way to or from school, or at a school-sponsored event, such as a field trip or a basketball game. Respondents participated in 30-45 minute interviews to help us answer such questions as:
- What kinds of things happen in these incidents?
- What is the nature of anti-gay harassment and violence in schools?
- When and where do these acts of harassment and violence seem to happen?
- Who may be targeted? Who is vulnerable? Who may be offenders?
- How do youth witnesses seem to respond?
- How do targeted individuals say they are affected? How do students who witness these incidents say they are affected?
- Why do targets, witnesses, friends and family members sometimes choose not to report incidents to school authorities?
- How do families seem to respond, when they know about the harassment?
- How do school employees handle the harassment (from the perspective of students and families, as well as educators)?
- How do respondents wish their principals had handled the incidents, assuming they knew what had happened?
We analyzed, in the end, two completed suicides, among a total of 111 incidents of Washington State, school-based anti-gay harassment and violence: