Although school climate has been thought to be especially important for racial minority and poor students (Booker, 2006; Haynes, Emmons, and Ben-Avie, 1997), little research has explored the significance of racial climate for these students. Furthermore, research in the area has tended to treat race, socioeconomic class, and gender separately, ignoring the ways in which they interact. Using quantitative survey data from 842 African American and white middle school students, this study examined the associations of race, class, and gender with school racial climate perceptions. Results indicated students’ perceptions of racial climate differed by race, class, and gender. African American, poor, and female students perceived the racial climate in more negative terms than their white, non-poor, and male counterparts, respectively. Results also indicated joint associations between race and class and climate perceptions. Non-poor, African American students perceived a more negative racial climate than did non-poor Whites. There was limited support for a race and gender interaction. African American females tended to perceive less racial fairness in school than African American males. We discuss the conceptual and methodological tradeoffs of examining students’ school racial climate perceptions from a perspective that considers race, class, and gender jointly.
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