Majority of LGBTQ+ Students Feel Unsafe at School

By Steven Galvin - Last update


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A new online survey has revealed the reality of life at school for 1,208 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ+) students across Ireland.  The 2022 Irish School Climate Survey, conducted by Belong To in conjunction with Columbia University, is the largest-ever research into the experience of LGBTQ+ youth attending schools here. BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI+) young people in Ireland.

 

The 2022 School Climate Survey asked second-level 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 for LGBTQ+ students, in the most recent academic year. 

 

Majority of LGBTQ+ Students Feel Unsafe at School

 

The research found that 76% of LGBTQ+ students feel unsafe at school, 69% of LGBTQ+ students hear homophobic remarks from other students, while 58% of LGBTQ+ students heard homophobic remarks from school staff. 

 

Positive indicators from the report include that 99% of LGBTQ+ students said that they know at least one school staff member supportive of LGBTQ+ identities. Findings show that this level of support leads to LGBTQ+ students being more likely to feel accepted by their peers, have an increased sense of belonging, and be less likely to miss school to avoid victimisation.

 

The report spotlights the fact that safe and supportive schools with LGBTQ+ inclusive staff, positive representation of LGBTQ+ experiences in the curriculum, and proactive intervention by staff upon hearing homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic remarks results in increased feelings of safety and belonging among LGBTQ+ students.

 

According to the findings, although the school climate for LGBTQ+ students has improved in some areas since the first iteration of this research in 2019, the situation remains stark. In 2022, school remains a place where LGBTQ+ students do not feel safe, with high rates of harassment and exclusion.

 

The 2022 School Climate Survey indicates that for many LGBTQ+ students, school is still a hostile environment where they face ongoing challenges and demonstrates the powerful, positive impact of inclusive and supportive teachers.  

 

Speaking about the report, CEO of Belong To, Moninne Griffith (she/her) said: “In the past two years, we have witnessed the rollback of LGBTQ+ rights internationally, the growth of the far right, and horrific violence inflicted on members of the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland. There is still a long way to go for positive changes in laws and policies that we have seen in Ireland in recent years to translate into change experienced in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ young people.

“This research highlights the urgent need for educators, parents, schools, policymakers, and politicians to listen to LGBTQ+ students and to learn from them. We must prioritise the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ students who are seriously at risk. We need the government to integrate LGBTQ+ awareness and inclusion to teacher-training courses and implement outstanding actions under the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy. We can see the positive impact when LGBTQ+ students feel supported by staff and we are grateful to inspiring teachers and schools across Ireland who have worked on LGBTQ+ school safety and inclusivity for years and have saved lives through these interventions. Together, we can create a better future for LGBTQ+ young people at school – a future where they feel safe, equal, and valued.”

 

Read Belong To School Climate Survey 2022 Full Report 2022 here

 

www.belongto.org

 


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Steven Galvin

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