Student survey provides insight into LGBT issues at Watertown High

Lila Cherry-German, Raider Times staff

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     In the spring of 2017, the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) at Watertown High administered a “climate survey” to divine the overall slant of the school population on LGBT issues. 

    The 49 questions in the voluntary survey concerned everything from the students’ gender and sexuality demographics to their opinion on equal marriage to their understanding of transgender rights. According to Jocelyn Ferraro, one of the GSA’s faculty sponsors, “The goal was to inquire about the individual perspectives of each student towards the LGBTQIA population in order to get an idea of the general climate of the school towards this community. We received a total of 336 responses for a voluntary survey … This was a pretty good turn out. We definitely have some data to work with.” 

    The findings of the survey showed an overall pro-equality disposition, as well as the expected trolls and outliers. The survey found that although 76.1% of the respondents believe WHS should be a safe space, only 57.5% of the students think that it is. While WHS is decidedly in support of equal marriage (78.1%), the overall position on transgender issues is a more ambivalent one: 47% of students believe gender is determined by anatomy and/or chromosomes.


    The question the remains is, “Do these statistics reflect the experience of LGBT students at WHS?” Phen Sarles, GSA president, believes so.

   “The survey results mainly confirmed how I’ve perceived the climate to be over the two years that I’ve been here,” Phen said. “There’s also a lot of misinformation which causes people to form biases or incorrect assumptions about LGBT issues. 

   “For the most part, people are curious, or at least not opposed to learning about LGBT issues, people just don’t know how to talk about them.”

   Now that the data has been collected, the GSA is undergoing a phase of analysis while deciding how to proceed. In doing this, the goals of the GSA are to create a program in which awareness about LGBT issues can be spread in a healthy and sustainable way, one that will ensure the continuation of the progress WHS has been making in the acknowledgement and acceptance of its LGBT students.

  –Nov. 30, 2017–

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Student survey provides insight into LGBT issues at Watertown High