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LGBTQ Discrimination in American Schools in the Bible Belt

Kenia Bringas
Ed W. Clark High School


This is paper will uncover the discrimination that exists and is prominent in the Bible Belt region
of the United States, specifically in the state of Alabama. In Alabama, the thriving Lesbian Gay
Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) Community tells about the statistics and experiences of
discrimination in the state has has the most religious influence in the country. Home to
Birmingham, the most bible-minded city in the world, it definitely needs some work to do if the
state wants to achieve social acceptance and equality. States like Alabama, specifically state in
the Bible Belt region of the Southern United States, need to overcome religious judgement and
find a way of accepting those who are different at least by looking at the statistics that show how
the LQBT community is being treated in the Southern United States.
Keywords: LGBTQ, Bible Belt, Southern United States, Religious Influence


LGBTQ Discrimination in American Schools in the Bible Belt Region

The Southern United States of America has been well-known to be heavily influenced by
religious beliefs. Religion mostly justifies the way the South perceives politics, science, and
education. Religious beliefs in the south is region in the United States tend to over shadow the
judgement of other peoples choices and their personalities. This essay will cover LGBTQ
Discrimination, the types, its effects, the discrimination in Alabama, and discrimination in the
general South.
The Notorious Bible Belt
The Bible belt region in the United States has become infamous for the way religion has
influenced citizens, reasoning, politics, education, etc. (Townes 2015) One can usually find
places in the region that still discriminate against those who do not fit religious social ideals and
that is what the region has been made famous for, the unacceptance of those who are different.
Things must change unless the region would like to keep the negative image that foreigners
recognize. The residents of the Bible Belt need to inform themselves on acceptance and its
importance because most Southern residents tend to be isolated in a world with only religion and
religious rules present. According to Townes, people that work on trying to make a difference believe
that engaging in personal conversations will encourage change in a region that has lagged in its
acceptance of gay rights (2015). A survey by the polling firm Anzalone Liszt Grove found that 65 percent
of LGBT people living in the states experienced verbal abuse, and 20 percent experienced physical
violence. Moreover, 25 percent reported discrimination in either the workplace or a public
accommodation. in the Deep Southern United States (Townes 2015). This is an example of the


gravity of discrimination that the LGBTQ community experiences in all social setting in the
Deep South.
Discrimination and its Effects
Discrimination for these students can include physical and verbal abuse (Human Rights Watch, 2001). An
example of what can occur when discrimination arises is told by a witness at Human Rights Watch
(HRW). The witness had received a call from a high-schooler in Mississippi who came out about his
sexual orientation to his counselor, but the counselor denied to aid the student Human Rights Watch,
2001). HRW (2001) reports that after, the counselor reported the student's orientation to the mother, but
the mother then found out about the student. Apparently, the mother was not accepting and told the
student at the dinner that "I got a call from the counselor's today. We're not going to have any gay kids in
this family," (Human Rights Watch, 2001). The student was heartbroken and decided to leave school and
run away to California (Human Rights Watch, 2001). This is a great example of how discrimination in
school, from a figure who is meant to aid you in your social and or Academic needs, can affect a student
psychologically to point where their academic career is negatively affected. These LGBTQ students need
help and acceptance in order for them to succeed.

Alabama is considered one of their most religious states in the U.S. (American Bible
Community, 2014). In fact, Alabama is home to Birmingham, considered the most bible-minded
city in the U.S. and it can be a very discriminative and judgmental environment to live in for a
LGBTQ student. According to the ALGBTICAL organization, the murder of a local, Billy Jack
Gaither, that was caused by others who were unaccepting of his sexual orientation, allowed
ALGBTICAL to act and look at the big picture (1991). They wanted to see the facts. Following


the murder of Billy Jack Gaither, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Alabama initiated a survey to
determine the extent of hate crimes and acts of hate against local gays and lesbians. Charles
Collins, a public health researcher at the UAB School of Public Health conducted the survey.
Results documented pervasive anti-gay violence, harassment and discrimination in the
Birmingham area. (ALGBTICAL, 1991) These where what ALGBTICAL found out about what
the people of Alabama have to say about the LGBTQ community.
44% of respondents report having been the target of anti-gay physical abuse,
discrimination and/or harassment in their family of origin.
49% report having been the target of anti-gay hate acts at school. National studies
show that a very high percentage of gay teens attempt suicide and that suicides by gay
teens make up 30% to 40% of all teen suicides.
48% or respondents report anti-gay violence, harassment or discrimination in the
workplace, including 15% who were fired.
39% report hate acts such as vandalism, threats or assault in their neighborhoods
and communities.
Blacks and women report roughly the same level of violence, harassment and
discrimination as whites and men, except that boys are three times more likely to be
targeted by homophobia in schools.
31% report having been targeted by anti-gay physical abuse in two different
settings of their lives: family of origin, school, the community or the workplace.
National surveys indicate that one third of anti-gay assaults include use of a weapon.
58% report anti-gay discrimination in more than two settings.
70% report anti-gay harassment, threats and intimidation in more than two
settings.(ALGBTICAL, 1991)
LGBTQ Students in the U. S.


The South is not the only place where LGBTQ students are being discriminated against
and whos civil rights are being violated. In fact, these incidents are national problems. There are
thousands of students in each state that are being discriminated against, but they are in need of
assistance, of someone who will listen, of someone who will take action to solve the problem.
Luckily, there are multiple organizations that protect and bring attention to peoples civil and
human rights. The Gay, Lesbian &Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is one of those
organizations that ensure safe classroom environments for all students. The organization is
focused on uncovering the truth about the problems LGBTQ students face in the United States
alone. GLSEN sponsored a National School Climate Survey that surveyed LGBTQ students on
their classroom environments. According to Kosciw, Greytak, Palmer, and Boesens (2014) study

ALGBTICAL. (1999, June 1). Retrieved May 6, 2015, from
http://www.algbtical.org/2A STATISTICS.htm
Is The Deep South The Next Big LGBT Rights Battleground? (2014, April 27). Retrieved May


8, 2015, from http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/04/27/3431260/hrc-campaign-deepsouth/uth/

Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Palmer, N. A., & Boesen, M. J. (2014). The 2013 National School
Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our
nations schools. New York: GLSEN.
Stern, M. (2015, January 8). A New Virginia Bill Would Let Schools, Hotels, Restaurants, and
Hospitals Turn Gays Away. Retrieved May 6, 2015, from