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Pride and Prejudice in Education

Friday 19 February 2016 LGBT

New NUS research reveals the extent of bullying and harassment experienced by LGBT+ students and staff in further and higher education.

NUS has launched a new report that shines a light on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) students and staff in post-school education.

Pride and Prejudice in Education reveals that more than half of those surveyed had experienced homophobic or transphobic abuse, with one in ten witnessing it every day.

The report calls for universities and colleges to improve training and support for staff, develop inclusive curriculum content, adopt zero tolerance for harassment, and to do more to prevent LGBT+ students from dropping out.

Robbiie Young and Fran Cowling, National Union of Students LGBT+ officers, said: “It is deeply concerning to see how widespread the bullying and harassment of LGBT+ students is. Every student should feel safe while at college or university. They shouldn’t have to face name-calling and other bullying, or have to consider dropping out of their course because of the way they are treated by other students. NUS will be working with students’ unions to implement the recommendations in this report to create learning environments that are inclusive and welcoming for all LGBT+ students.”

The report surveyed over 1,500 people and was produced in partnership with the Equality Challenge Unit, the Learning and Work Institute, the Skills Funding Agency, the University and College Union, and the Forum for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality in Post-School Education.

Other findings include the fact that 78 per cent of respondents said they did not know who to go to if they experienced bullying.

Seth Aitken, Forum for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality chair, said: “This report clearly shows there is much to be done to foster confidence amongst both staff and learners, which seems to be particularly lacking when it comes to reporting bullying and harassment.”

The research suggests that negative behaviour towards LGBT+ learners had an impact on their learning and retention levels, with gay/lesbian and non-binary respondents more than twice as likely as average to consider leaving their course.

Helen Carr, University and College Union head of equality, said: “While much has been done to address bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity in colleges and universities, there is no getting away from the fact that it is still a problem.”