The majority of gay students in Minnesota have been verbally harassed in school, and one in five has been punched, kicked or violently injured over sexual orientation, according to new survey.

The results, based on responses from 181 Minnesota teens in 2009, show that bullying remains a particular problem for students who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT). The results also amplify the concerns, raised last year by the suicide of a gay student at Anoka High School, that some districts don't do enough to protect this population.

"More needs to be done to ensure that LGBT students are safe and have an equal opportunity to learn," said Dr. Joseph Kosciw, a senior director with the New York-based Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, which produced the survey data.

The network originally released national bullying data last fall, based on survey responses from 7,261 students of U.S. middle or high schools. The Minnesota figures were released Monday.

Eight in 10 Minnesota GLBT students reported verbal harassment in school because of their sexual orientation, while 47 percent reported physical harassment (pushing) and 19 percent reported assaults (punching, kicking). Almost all the students reported regularly hearing "gay" used in a derogatory manner, while 92 percent reported hearing other anti-gay terms.

A federal school safety report in 2009 estimated that one-third of students ages 12 to 18 were bullied at school. Advocates believe that gay students are bullied at a rate higher than other students.

Concerns about the safety of GLBT students in Minnesota heightened with the suicide last July of Justin Aaberg, an Anoka High student. His mother, Tammy, criticized the district for a policy that she said limited how staff could support gay students. Aaberg was one of six students in the Anoka Hennepin School District to die by suicide in a recent 12-month period. A district review found bullying wasn't the principal issue, but many parents and students believe that it was a key factor.

In the latest survey, nearly all the GLBT students identified at least one supportive teacher. But only 34 percent said their districts had "comprehensive" anti-bullying policies that protected students based on sexual orientation.

The national survey showed that students in schools with strong anti-bullying policies reported fewer problems and better grades. More than half of the gay students in Minnesota who were bullied never reported harassment or assaults to school officials or parents, the survey found.

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744