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Less Biased-Based Bullying in Schools With Stronger Structural Supports

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Introduction
In a time of heightened expressions of racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of hatred and bigotry in both public and political spheres within the U.S. (Miller & Davis, 2018), we are particularly concerned with the well-being of children and youth who may be the target of hateful rhetoric and aggression. Bullying is distinct from race- and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning)-based discrimination. However, biased-based bullying – bullying that targets someone for aspects of their identity (e.g., race, sexual orientation, gender identity) – may be one avenue in which these forms of discrimination are displayed in schools. Recently scholars have begun to examine bullying as a form of social inequality (Haines-Saah, Hilario, Jenkins, Ng, & Johnson, 2016) and have found that bullying and discrimination co-occur (Garnett, Masyn, Austin, 2014). Bullying as a form of discrimination has direct effects on delinquency among Black youth (Martin et al., 2010), and those who experience higher co-occurrences of discrimination and bias-based bullying report higher levels of self-harm, suicidal ideation, and depression (Garnett et al., 2014). Because racism, homophobia, and transphobia are perpetuated by structural inequality and oppression, we examine structural factors within schools that may reduce biased-based bullying among youth, including diversity of teaching staff, and approaches to addressing bias in schools.
Study population
This study uses student-level data from the California Healthy Kids Survey (n = 518,460) and teacher-level data (n = 68,095) from the California School Staff Survey from 1,086 middle and high schools. Over 53% of the students were Hispanic, 18% White (non-Hispanic), 9% Asian (non-Hispanic), and 4% Black/African American (non-Hispanic). Over 63% of teachers were White, 19% Hispanic, 7% multiracial, and 3% Black/African American.
Methods
Multilevel modeling was used to assess student reports of race- or LGBTQ-based bullying (0 = no, 1 = yes) in relation to teacher reports of approaches to addressing bias in schools (e.g., school encourages students to enroll in rigorous courses, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or nationality; School has staff examine their own cultural biases through professional development or other processes; = .88), and the diversity of the teaching staff.
Results
We found that relative to schools with less diverse teaching staff, schools with more diversity among teachers were associated with less race-based bullying. Additionally, relative to schools that do less to address bias, those that do more to address bias were associated with less race- and LGBTQ-based bullying (see Table 1). We also found differential relationships in which race/ethnicity and gender identity moderated the relationship between bias-based bullying and structural factors within schools (see Figure 1). For example, Black/African American youth experienced less race-based bullying, and transgender youth experienced less LGBTQ-focused bullying, in schools with more diverse teaching staffs relative to schools with less diversity among teachers. Increasing diversity among teachers and adopting a multipronged approach to addressing bias may be effective mechanisms for addressing issues related to bias-based bullying in schools.

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