Three in four of the LGBTQ+ students surveyed say they feel unsafe in school
Three in four LGBTQ+ pupils feel unsafe in school and almost 60pc have heard school staff making homophobic remarks, new research shows.
Both other pupils and teachers contribute to their feelings of unease, which sometimes causes them to skip school.
The harsh reality of life for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ+) second-level students is highlighted in the 2022 School Climate Survey.
Despite significant positive progress with legislation, national strategies and policies to protect LGBTQ+ people, the findings show that school is still not a safe place for them.
Bathrooms, PE/sports facilities, locker rooms, and lunch rooms are spaces that LGBTQ+ students are most likely to avoid due to feeling unsafe.
The recent survey, by the support group, BeLonG To, and the Teacher’s College at Columbia University, New York, asked students who identify as LGBTQ+ about their feelings of safety, instances of LGBTQ+ discrimination, experiences of harassment, and the availability of school-based support and resources, in the most recent academic year.
According to BeLonG To, the use of homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic language and the harassment, abuse, and exclusion of LGBTQ+ students remains rife throughout second-level schools, creating a hostile environment and presenting significant risks for the well-being, mental health and educational outcomes of these students.
The survey drew responses from 1,208 LGBTQ+ students, aged 13-20, across all 26 counties, and key findings included: 76pc feel unsafe at school; 69pc heard homophobic remarks from other students; and 58pc heard homophobic remarks from school staff.
One in three of the students – 32pc – have skipped school to avoid negative treatment due to being LGBTQ+.
On the positive side, 99pc said that they knew at least one school staff member supportive of LGBTQ+ identities.
The report’s publication coincides with Stand Up Awareness Week in second-level schools, Youthreach Centres, the largest LGBTQ+ anti-bullying campaign.
BeLonG To CEO Moninne Griffith said in the past two years, there had been a rollback of LGBTQ+ rights internationally, the rise of the far right, and horrific violence inflicted on members of the LGBTQ+ community here.
“There is still a long way to go for positive changes in laws and policies to translate into change experienced in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ young people,” she said.