DC Public School Official: More Than 15% of Students Identify as LGBQ

By Penny Starr | August 16, 2016 | 5:19 PM EDT

Diana Bruce, director of health and wellness for D.C. Public Schools. (CNSNews/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – An official for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) told a U.S. Department of Education bullying summit on Friday that "more than 15 percent" of high school students in DCPS identify as either gay, lesbian, bisexual or “questioning” – i.e. not sure of their sexuality.

DCPS Health and Wellness Director Diana Bruce cited statistics from a 2012 survey which also found that “6.2% of D.C. middle school youth identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual” and “8.9% of D.C. middle school youth identify as questioning or not sure” regarding their sexual identity.

“We serve almost 50,000 students across 110 schools throughout the District,” Bruce said in a panel discussion on “Bullying Based on Gender, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation.”

 “More than 15 percent of our high school students [regular and charter schools] identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning – and that’s at the high school level,” Bruce said. “At the middle school level, about 6 percent of our students identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and another 8 percent identify as questioning."

She added that DCPS does not have data on the percentage of middle and high school students who consider themselves transgender.

“We haven’t mastered the ‘T’ question yet,” Bruce said. “So hopefully soon, one day very soon, we will have a good transgender question that we feel comfortable with the responses for. Our students and I cannot wait to be able to validate their experiences with some data,” she said.

The DCPS survey also found that “during the past 12 months, 21% of LGBQ high school youth and 7% of heterosexual highs school youth reported that they have been harassed on school property because someone thought they were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

The day-long summit, entitled “2016 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit -- Keeping Kids Safe: Promoting Tolerance and Inclusion Among Students to Prevent Bullying,” was described on the federal website stopbullying.gov as an event to "focus on the strategies schools, students, parents, and community members can use to ensure that all students, particularly those who may be discriminated on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and religion, have supportive educational environments within which to learn.

“This year, we are putting a special emphasis on the issues facing transgender youth, students with disabilities, as well as Muslim and Sikh students.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) July National Health Statistics Report, the 2013 National Health Interview Survey of adults ages 18 to 64 found that “96.6 percent of adults identified as straight, 1.6 percent identified as gay or lesbian and 0.7 percent identified as bisexual."

The remaining 1.1 percent of adults identified as “something else” (0.2%); stated “I don’t know the answer” (0.4%); or refused to provide an answer (0.6%).