Most LGBTI+ students feel unsafe in school

Urgent action needed - BeLonG To
  • Deborah Condon

Almost three in four LGBTI+ second-level students feel unsafe in school, according to the results of the 2019 School Climate Survey.

The findings show that 77% of LGBTI+ students have experienced verbal harassment based on their sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression.

A further 38% have been physically harassed (shoved or pushed), while 11% have been physically assaulted, including being punched, kicked or injured with a weapon.

Meanwhile, 68% of LGBTI+ students have heard anti-LGBTI+ remarks from other students and 48% have heard homophobic remarks by teachers and other staff members. A further 55% have also heard transphobic remarks from teachers and staff members.

According to BeLonG To Youth Services, the national organisation that supports LGBTI+ young people in Ireland, as a result of feeling unsafe and unaccepted at school, LGBTI+ students are 27% more likely to miss school and 8% less likely to pursue a third-level education.

"I told my friends I was gay in first year and they outed me to everyone. It was horrible. People scribbled slurs on my photos around the school and wrote a slur on my locker in marker. I told my teacher and she basically told me I shouldn't have come out then, as if it was my choice in the first place," explained one of the survey participants.

BeLonG To is calling on the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, and secondary schools to take urgent action in light of the survey results.

"This research must act as a wakeup call for the Government, schools, politicians, parents and students. The Minister for Education needs to take immediate action and prioritise the safety and wellbeing of LGBTI+ students who are seriously at risk.

"The Government cannot continue to ignore the risk posed to LGBTI+ students. Real political action is needed. This must stop now," commented BeLonG To CEO, Moninne Griffith.

She said that despite the marriage quality referendum, LTBGI+ people still have to deal with "intense discrimination, harassment, isolation and stigma".

"Worse still, the research reveals that some staff members turn a blind eye to, and sometimes even contribute to, anti-LGBTI+ remarks. What about the Ireland we voted for? This report paints a picture of an Ireland we had hoped had been left behind. We are better than this and we owe it to our LGBTI+ students to do better than this," Ms Griffith insisted.

BeLonG To is calling on the Government to enforce the implementation of anti-bullying policies in schools and invest in teacher training "to create the understanding and knowledge needed to support LGBTI+ students".

The School Climate Survey was conducted between May and August of this year by BeLonG To and Columbia University. It involved almost 800 students between the ages of 13 and 20, making it the largest research sample of LGBTI+ young people in schools in Ireland ever gathered.

For more information on BeLonG To, click here.


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