Survey finds 73% of LGBTI+ students feel unsafe in school

Survey finds 73% of LGBTI+ students feel unsafe in school

An "alarming" 73% of LGBTI+ students feel unsafe in school, and 77% are called names or are threatened due to their sexual orientation or gender expression.

A further 43% of LGBTI+ students say they experience sexual harassment, like unwanted touching or sexual remarks, in school, while 38% say they experience physical harrassment and 11% said they are physically assaulted.

That’s according to the findings of a national survey by BeLonG To Youth Services and Columbia University, which included the largest research sample ever of LGBTI+ young people in schools here.

“Despite misconceptions, growing up LGBTI+ isn’t all rainbows post-the marriage equality referendum,” said Moninne Griffith, BeLonG To Youth Services chief executive.

The survey of almost 780 lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people nationwide found that:

  • 86% of LGBTI+ students felt deliberately excluded or “left out” by other students
  • 60% of LGBTI+ students never reported incidents of LGBTI+ bullying to school staff and 54% never reported to a family member
  • 45% of LGBTI+ students reported that staff at their school did not intervene if present when homophobic remarks were made
  • Three-out-of-10 students who took the survey missed at least one day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable
  • LGBTI+ students avoid certain places and activities due to safety concerns, mainly PE classes, bathrooms and locker rooms

One anonymous student who took part in the survey said they were sexually abused weekly by their male classmates in the PE changing rooms. “They would slap my ass, put their fingers up my ass, grope me and pull at my penis. I was terrified of PE and this affected my attendance on PE days.”

One student who took part in the survey said they felt that when kids know a student is trans, they don't see them as "male or female or human" - "I am pretty much a one-man zoo. I can't change this fact and I'm pretty suicidal because of it.”

When staff members and school policies are inclusive of LGBTI+ identities, there tends to be more positive outcomes for students, the survey also found. Students who reported a higher level of staff supportive of LGBTI+ students were 45% more likely to feel accepted by the student body.

The BelongTo survey indicates "intense discrimination, harassment, isolation and stigma" that LGBTI+ students here face, according to Moninne Griffith.

"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.

"We are 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.

"There are many schools in Ireland leading the way, creating safe and supportive spaces for their LGBTI+ students. We must follow their example and build a school system that values this and future generations of Irish children."

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