Understanding the Impacts of the School Environment

  • Elizabeth J. MeyerEmail author
Part of the Explorations of Educational Purpose book series (EXEP, volume 10)


This chapter provides an overview of current research on the physical and emotional harms that can occur when issues of gender and sexual diversity are ignored, addressed in negative ways, or inaccurate information is presented in schools and communities. Recent studies offer readers specific statistics on incidences of bullying and harassment (including cyber-bullying), forms of self-harm (such as drug and alcohol use, suicide, and high-risk sex), truancy and drop-outs, poor academic performance (lower grades, less likely to attend college), and the impact of heteronormative gender-role expectations on career and scholarly aspirations. Finally, the chapter concludes with a discussion of the potential impacts of positive school climates.


Sexual Orientation Sexual Harassment School Climate Sexual Diversity Hegemonic Masculinity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Agatston, P. W., Kowalski, R., & Limber, S. (2007). Students’ perspectives on cyber bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(6, suppl), S59–S60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bagley, C., Bolitho, F., & Bertrand, L. (1997). Sexual assault in school, mental health and suicidal behaviors in adolescent women in Canada. Adolescence, 32(126), 361–366.Google Scholar
  3. Barak, A. (2005). Sexual harassment on the internet. Social Science Computer Review, 23(1), 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bochenek, M., & Brown, A. W. (2001). Hatred in the hallways: Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students in U.S. schools. New York: Human Rights Watch.Google Scholar
  5. Bond, L., Carlin, J. B., Thomas, L., Rubin, K., & Patton, G. (2001). Does bullying cause emotional problems? A prospective study of young teenagers. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 323(7311), 480–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bufkin, J. L. (1999). Bias crime as gendered behavior. Social Justice, 26(1), 155–176.Google Scholar
  7. California Safe Schools Coalition. (2004). Consequences of harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender non-conformity and steps for making schools safer. Davis: University of California.Google Scholar
  8. Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  9. Corbett, K., Gentry, C. A., & Pearson, W. J. (1993). Sexual harassment in high school. Youth & Society, 25(1), 93–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. D’Augelli, A. R., Grossman, A. H., Salter, N. P., Vasey, J. J., Starks, M. T., & Sinclair, K. O. (2005). Predicting the suicide attempts of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 35(6), 646–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dehue, F., Bolman, C., & Vollink, T. (2008). Cyberbullying: Youngsters’ experiences and parental perception. CyberPsychology & Behavior 11(2), 217–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diaz, E., & Kosciw, J. (2009). Shared differences: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students of color in our Nation’s schools. New York, NY: GLSEN.Google Scholar
  13. Duncan, N. (1999). Sexual bullying: Gender conflict and pupil culture in secondary schools. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Eder, D. (1997). Sexual aggression within the school culture. In B. Bank & P. M. Hall (Eds.), Gender, equity, and schooling (pp. 93–112). London: Garland Publishing.Google Scholar
  15. Fredericks, J., Blumenfeld, P., & Paris, A. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 59–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. GLSEN. (2001). The national school climate survey: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and their experiences in schools. New York, NY: The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.Google Scholar
  17. Grossman, A. H., & DȉAugelli, A. R. (2005). Recreational substance use among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth: Frequency and predictors. In P. Bramham & J. Caudwell (Eds.), Sport, active leisure and youth cultures (pp. 55–72). Eastbourne: LSA Publications.Google Scholar
  18. Gruber, J. E., & Fineran, S. (2008). Comparing the impact of bullying and sexual harassment victimization on the mental and physical health of adolescents. Sex Roles, 59, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2007). Offline consequences of online victimization: School violence and delinquency. Journal of School Violence, 6(3), 89–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hoover, J. H., & Juul, K. (1993). Bullying in Europe and the United States. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Problems, 2(1), 25–29.Google Scholar
  21. Irving, B. A., & Parker-Jenkins, M. (1995). Tackling truancy: An examination of persistent non-attendance amongst disaffected school pupils and positive support strategies. Cambridge Journal of Education, 25(2), 225–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jackson, J. (2007). Unmasking Identities: An exploration of the lives of gay and lesbian teachers. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  23. Jenkins, H., & boyd, d. (2006). Discussion: Myspace and Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) [Electronic Version]. Digital divide network. Retrieved May 31, 2006, from
  24. Kosciw, J., & Diaz, E. (2006). The 2005 national school climate survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York, NY: The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.Google Scholar
  25. Kosciw, J., Diaz, E., & Gretytak, E. (2008). 2007 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York, NY: GLSEN.Google Scholar
  26. Land, D. (2003). Teasing apart secondary students’ conceptualizations of peer teasing, bullying and sexual harassment School Psychology International, 24(2), 147–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Larkin, J. (1994). Walking through walls: The sexual harassment of high school girls. Gender and Education, 6(3), 263–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lee, V., Croninger, R. G., Linn, E., & Chen, Z. (1996). The culture of sexual harassment in secondary schools. American Educational Research Journal, 33(2), 383–417.Google Scholar
  29. Li, Q. (2006). Cyberbullying in schools: A research of gender differences. School Psychology International, 27(2), 157–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Louis Harris & Associates. (1993). Hostile hallways: The AAUW survey on sexual harassment in America’s schools Washington, DC: American Association of University Women.Google Scholar
  31. Macgillivray, I. K. (2007). Gay-straight alliances: A handbook for students, educators, and parents. Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press.Google Scholar
  32. Martino, W. (1995). ‘Cool boys’, ‘party animals’, ‘squids’ and ‘poofters’: Interrogating the dynamics and politics of adolescent masculinities in school. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 22(2), 239–263.Google Scholar
  33. Martino, W., & Berrill, D. (2003). Boys, schooling and masculinities: Interrogating the ‘Right’ way to educate boys. Educational Review, 55(2), 99–117.Google Scholar
  34. Martino, W., & Pallotta-Chiarolli, M. (2003). So what’s a boy? Addressing issues of masculinity and schooling. Buckingham, : Open University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Massachusetts Department of Education. (2007, November 20). The Safe Schools Program for Gay & Lesbian Students. Retrieved December 17, 2007, from
  36. Meyer, E. J. (2008). Gendered harassment in secondary schools: Understanding teachers’ (non)interventions. Gender & Education, 20(6), 555–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Meyer, E. J. (2009a). Book Review Essay: Handbooks for educators working with Gay-Straight Alliances. Journal of GLBT Youth, 6(3/4), 317–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Meyer, E. J. (2009b). Gender, bullying, and harassment: Strategies to end sexism and homophobia in schools. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  39. National Mental Health Association. (2002). What does gay mean? Teen survey executive summary. Alexandria, VA: National Mental Health Association.Google Scholar
  40. O’Conor, A. (1995). Who gets called queer in school? Lesbian, gay, and bisexual teenagers, homophobia, and high school. In G. Unks (Ed.), The Gay teen: Educational practice and theory for lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents (pp. 95–104). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  42. Pascoe, C. J. (2005). ‘Dude, You’re a Fag’: Adolescent masculinity and the fag discourse. Sexualities, 8(3), 329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pascoe, C. J. (2007). Dude, you’re a fag: Masculinity and sexuality in high school. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  44. Reis, B. (1999). They don’t even know me: Understanding anti-gay harassment and violence in schools. Seattle, WA: Safe Schools Coalition of Washington.Google Scholar
  45. Reis, B., & Saewyc, E. (1999). 83,000 Youth: Selected findings of eight population-based studies. Seattle, WA: Safe Schools Coaltion of Washington.Google Scholar
  46. Renn, K. A., & Bilodeau, B. (2005). Queer student leaders: An exploratory case study of identity development and LGBT student involvement. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Issues in Education, 2(4), 49–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Renold, E. (2002). Presumed innocence – (Hetero)sexual, heterosexist and homophobic harassment among primary school girls and boys. Childhood – A global journal of child research, 9(4), 415–434.Google Scholar
  48. Renold, E. (2003). ‘If you don’t kiss me you’re dumped’: Boys, boyfriends and heterosexualised masculinities in the primary school. Educational Review, 55(2), 179–194.Google Scholar
  49. Rigby, K., & Slee, P. (1999). Suicidal ideation among adolescent school children, involvement in bully-victim problems, and perceived social support. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 29(2), 119–130.Google Scholar
  50. Robinson, K. H. (2005). Reinforcing hegemonic masculinities through sexual harassment: issues of identity, power and popularity in secondary schools. Gender and Education, 17(1), 19–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rofes, E. (1995). Making our schools safe for sissies. In G. Unks (Ed.), The gay teen: Educational practice and theory for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adolescents (pp. 79–84). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  52. Ryan, A., & Patrick, H. (2001). The Classroom social environment and changes in adolescents’ motivation and engagement during middle school. American Educational Research Journal, 38(2), 437–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shariff, S. (2008). Cyberbullying: Issues and solutions for the school, the classroom and the home. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Sharp, S. (1995). How much does bullying hurt? The effects of bullying on the personal well being and educational progress of secondary aged students. Educational & Child Psychology, 12(2), 81–88.Google Scholar
  55. Slee, P. (1995). Bullying: Health concerns of Australian secondary school students. International Journal of Adolescence & Youth, 5(4), 215–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Smith, G. W., & Smith, D., Ed. (1998). The ideology of “fag”: The school experience of gay students. Sociological Quarterly, 39(2), 309–335.Google Scholar
  57. Smith, P. K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: Its nature and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(4), 376–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Soutter, A., & McKenzie, A. (2000). The use and effects of anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies in Australian schools. School Psychology International, 21(1), 96–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stein, N. (1995). Sexual harassment in school: The public performance of gendered violence. Harvard Educational Review, 65(2), 145–162.Google Scholar
  60. Stein, N. (2002). Bullying as sexual harassment in elementary schools. In E. Rassen (Ed.), The Jossey-Bass reader on gender in education (pp. 409–429). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  61. Stein, N., Linn, E., & Young, J. (1992). Bitter lessons for all: Sexual harassment in schools. In J. T. Sears (Ed.), Sexuality and the curriculum (pp. 149–174). New York,: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  62. Stoudt, B. G. (2006). You’re either in or you’re out: School violence, peer discipline, and the (re)production of hegemonic masculinity. Men And Masculinities, 8(3), 273–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Szlacha, L. (2003). Safer sexual diversity climates: Lessons learned from an evaluation of Massachusetts safe schools program for gay and lesbian students. American Journal of Education, 110(1), 58–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Walton, G. (2004). Bullying and homophobia in Canadian schools: The politics of policies, programs, and educational leadership. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Issues in Education, 1(4), 23–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Whitley, B. E., Jr. (2001). Gender-role variables and attitudes toward homosexuality. Sex Roles, 45(11/12), 691–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Williams, T., Connolly, J., Pepler, D., & Craig, W. (2003). Questioning and sexual minority adolescents: High school experiences of bullying, sexual harassment and physical abuse. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 22(2), 47–58.Google Scholar
  67. Williams, T., Connolly, J., Pepler, D., & Craig, W. (2005). Peer victimization, social support, and psychosocial adjustment of sexual minority adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34(5), 471–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wolak, J., Mitchell, K., & Finkelhor, D. (2006). Online victimization of youth: Five years later. Durham, NH: The Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire.Google Scholar
  69. Wood, J. (1987). Groping towards sexism: Boys’ sex talk. In M. Arnot & G. Weiner (Eds.), Gender under scrutiny: New inquiries in education (pp. 187–230). London: Hutchinson Education.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of EducationConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations