Gender diversity and safety climate perceptions in schools and other youth-serving organisations

Douglas H. Russell, Joel R. Anderson, Damien W. Riggs, Jacqueline Ullman, Daryl J. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Although there is a lack of data on experiences in other youth-serving organisations, past research on schools has found that transgender youth often perceive the school climate, as well as the physical aspects of the school environment, as less safe than their cisgender peers. Similarly, transgender students’ level of confidence in adults and staff in many US studies paints a poor picture of the support transgender students receive, which in turn can affect truancy, academic and social outcomes, mental health and discrimination experiences. The purpose of the current research was to extend previous US studies by examining an Australian sample of gender diverse and cisgender young people, and to investigate if differences between these groups existed in perceptions of safety (including confidence in adults to act, barriers to seeking help, and the culture of safety) across a variety of youth-serving organisations. Using the Australian Safe Kids and Young People survey 27 gender diverse, and 54 cisgender (27 male- and 27 female-identifying) triads were matched on age, Aboriginal identity, and then postcode. Participants were 11–18 years old (M = 14.54, SD = 2.14), and were part of a convenience sample of over 1400 participants in a larger study investigating perceptions of safety in youth-serving organisations. Results indicated that gender diverse youth report poorer school safety climate than cisgender male and female youth (who did not differ from each other) and more barriers to help seeking when they felt unsafe. Gender diverse youth however had more confidence in adults to support them when feeling unsafe than their peers. Like previous international studies, the results suggest that youth-serving organisations struggle to provide environments that foster more positive perceptions of safety in gender diverse young people.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105334
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Gender diversity
  • youth-serving organisations
  • transgender youth
  • cisgender
  • safety
  • support


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