School still ‘isolating’ for LGBTI+ students in Ireland, says new report

by Rachel Darcy

Nearly 50% of LGBTI+ students in Ireland have reported hearing a homophobic remark from a teacher or staff member, according to a new report from a national organisation working with LGBTI+ youth, BeLonG To.

The School Climate survey was launched by BeLonG To on Tuesday morning, and paints a picture of the reality faced by thousands of students in schools across the country.

In addition to 48% of students hearing a homophobic remark from a member of staff, 55% said that they have also heard transphobic remarks made by teachers or staff.

Of those who participated in the survey, 45% of students said that staff did not intervene when homophobic remarks were made, and 60% of participants felt that staff intervention was ineffective.

Results of the survey also showed that a massive 73% of LGBTI+ students felt unsafe in school, with 68% hearing homophobic remarks from fellow students, with a rise being reported in the level of LGBTI+ students skipping school to avoid harassment or bullying over their sexuality or gender identity.

The survey was conducted primarily online between May and August 2019, with 788 LGBTI+ young people between 13 and 20 taking part.

Speaking in the introduction to the survey’s results, BeLonG To CEO Moninne Griffth said: “The study paints a bleak picture of the reality of school life for LGBTI+ students in Ireland.

“Findings indicate that in the 2018-2019 school year, an alarming 73% of LGBTI+ students felt unsafe at school, with the majority of students experiencing homophobic remarks, many experiencing harassment and some experiencing physical and sexual assault.”

“We have heard stories of anti-LGBTI+ bullying, from students being violently kicked and punched to being thrown down the stairs at school. One student described going home from school with the feeling of 1,000 paper cuts following a day of hearing homophobic remarks in succession.

“The heart-breaking reality is that for many LGBTI+ students, school is an isolating, unsafe place.”

To read the full report, visit BeLonG To’s website at belongto.org.

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