76% OF LGBTQ+ STUDENTS FEEL UNSAFE AT SCHOOL, RESEARCH FINDS
New findings in the 2022 School Climate Survey research from Belong To
- 69% of LGBTQ+ students hear homophobic remarks from other students.
- 58% of LGBTQ+ students heard homophobic remarks from school staff.
- 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ students have skipped school to avoid negative treatment due to being LGBTQ+.
- Bathrooms, PE, sports facilities, locker rooms, and lunchrooms are spaces LGBTQ+ students are most likely to avoid due to feeling unsafe.
Tuesday, November 15th: A new report from Belong To, the national LGBTQ+ youth organisation, uncovers the harsh reality of life at school for 1,208 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ+) second-level students across Ireland. Despite significant positive progress in recent years with legislation, national strategies, and policies to protect LGBTQ+ people in Ireland, the 2022 School Climate Survey found that school is still not a safe place for LGBTQ+ students.
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. This year, 1,208 LGBTQ+ students took part in the survey, representing all 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland. 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 findings come ahead of the 13th year of Stand Up Awareness Week, Ireland’s largest LGBTQ+ anti-bullying campaign, which takes place from Monday November 15th to Friday November 19th. Use of homophobic, transphobic, and biphobic language and the harassment, abuse, and exclusion of LGBTQ+ students remains rife throughout second-level schools in Ireland. This stark reality creates a hostile school environment for many LGBTQ+ students, presenting significant risks for their wellbeing, mental health, and educational outcomes.
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.”
Anonymous responses to the School Climate Survey include:
“I think a big part of my depression in life has been since I found out I’m gay when I was 14-15. At first I hated myself because of it, I used to pray and wish I was ‘normal’ because that’s how students in school treated LGBTQ+ people.”
“The worst experience I had was in PE. We were doing push ups and I wasn’t keeping my back straight. Someone commented I had my ass in the air because I was gay. I laughed it, off but afterward he and two other students attempted to assault me.”
For further information please contact Sinead Keane, Director of Communications and Advocacy, Belong To: 087 768 0389 firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
CEO of Belong To, Moninne Griffith (she/her) and Policy and Research Officer, Matt Kennedy (he/him), are available for interview upon request.
About the 2022 School Climate Survey:
This is the second iteration of the School Climate Survey research being conducted in Ireland, published by Belong To and the Teacher’s College at Columbia University, New York. The report was also conducted in 2019. The final sample consists of 1,208 LGBTQ+ students between the ages of 13 and 20, a 53% increase on our 2019 sample of 788 participants. All 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland are represented.
The School Climate Survey asks second-level students who identify as LGBTQ+ about their feelings of safety, instances of LGBTQ+ discrimination, experiences of harassment, and availability of school-based support and resources for LGBTQ+ students, in the most recent academic year.
The 2022 School Climate Survey was conducted online from June to August 2022. To obtain a representative sample of LGBTQ+ youth nationally, Belong To conducted outreach through national, regional, and local organisations that provide services to or advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ youth; sent posters about the survey to LGBTQ+ youth services and local community spaces; liaised with our allies, network of young people, and professionals to disseminate the survey; and utilised social networking sites, including TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to promote the survey.
A full copy of the report is available on www.belongto.org
About Stand Up Awareness Week
Stand Up Awareness Week, now in its 13th year, is the largest LGBTQ+ anti-bullying week in Ireland. During the week of November 14th-18th 2022, second-level schools, Youthreach Centres, and youth services participate in this campaign. Belong To has distributed Stand Up Awareness Week Resource Packs and Posters to all second-level schools, Youthreach Centres and Youth Services in Ireland. To access these free resources including curricular-based activity ideas, visit www.belongto.org/standup
About Belong To
Belong To is a national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth. Since 2003, Belong To has worked with LGBTQ+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe, and thriving. The organisation advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBTQ+ people and offers a specialised LGBTQ+ youth service including crisis counselling, information, and the provision of LGBTQ+ youth groups. Belong To supports professional including educators across Ireland through training, resources and an accreditation programme. To find out more, visit www.belongto.org
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