Alarming number of Irish LGBT+ students feel unsafe in school

73% of Irish LGBT+ students have said they feel unsafe in secondary school, according to the findings of BeLonG To Youth Service School Climate Survey.

Students writing in notebooks in class. Irish LGBT+ students have reported that they feel unsafe in school according to new survey findings.

The release of a national school survey showing high levels of abuse and assault towards LGBT+ students must act as a “wakeup call” for the Irish Government, said BeLonG To Youth Services. 

As highlighted in the 2019 School Climate Survey, 73% of LGBT+ students feel unsafe at secondary school. 77% of LGBT+ students have experienced verbal harassment, 38% experienced physical harassment, and a further 11% experienced physical assault.

Speaking anonymously, one student said, “When kids know you are trans they don’t see you 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.” Further highlighting the issues transgender students face in school, the Independent reported that a student suffered dehydration to avoid using the bathrooms.

CEO of BeLonG To Youth Services, Moninne Griffith, said, “This research must act as a wakeup call for the government, schools, politicians, parents and students. Minister for Education, Joe McHugh 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.”

Research findings for the 2019 School Climate Survey were released to mark the 10th year of Stand Up Awareness Week. Marking the release of the findings, Griffith further states, “Growing up LGBTI+ isn’t all rainbows post-the marriage equality referendum. Our findings indicate the intense discrimination, harassment, isolation and stigma that LGBTI+ students experience in Ireland. Worse still, the research reveals that some staff members turn a blind eye to, and sometimes even contribute, anti-LGBTI+ remarks.”

48% of LGBT+ students reported that they have heard homophobic remarks being made by teachers and staff members, with a further 55% reporting that staff have made transphobic comments. As stated by a student, “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.”

68% of LGBT+ students have heard anti-LGBT+ comments being made by fellow students. One student said, “I was physically and verbally harassed while I was in school based on my sexual orientation and because I was more masculine than other girls. I got yelled at by one student who used dyke and lesbian in a negative way towards me, then repeatedly punched and kicked me while other students watched this happened on two occasions.”

Students writing in notebooks in class. Irish LGBT+ students have reported that they feel unsafe in school according to new survey findings.

Another student reported, “I was sexually abused by the guys in the PE changing room age 14 to 17 on a weekly basis. 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.” Due to this hostile environment, LGBT+ students are 27% more likely to miss school days and 8% are less inclined to pursue third-level education.

Professor Oren Pizmony-Levy, author of the research, stated, “As countries make progress with LGBT+ rights, we need to pay attention to schools where the next generation is learning to lead us toward a more equitable and inclusive world. Our findings show that, similar to other countries, schools in Ireland have much work to do.”

GCN has contacted the Department of Education for a response to the findings.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.