Youth face gay hate and bullying in Scottish schools

A new report highlights that a majority of LGBT youth face bullying and anti-gay hate in Scotland’s education system

A new report published today by LGBT Youth Scotland and launched at the Scottish Learning Festival portrays a worrying situation for many Scottish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people in education.

A majority of LGBT respondents (69 percent) said they had experienced homophobic or biphobic bullying in school with the number still high at 25% in college and 14% at university.

The survey entitled ‘Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People: Education Report’ had 350 respondents aged 13-25 answering a range of questions about their experiences of being LGBT in educational establishments.

The report also asked young people how they felt educational establishments could combat bullying and a range of recommendations are presented in the report.

The  report stated that ‘teachers don’t do much about people being called dykes or poofs. They only intervened if there was an actual physical assault. More direct approaches need to be taken to ensure LGBT students are treated fairly in schools and that their sexuality/gender expression shouldn’t affect their education.’

Another important feature of the report is its inclusion of transgender young people and their experiences. 77% of transgender respondents had experienced bullying based on perceived gender identity or sexual orientation in school (69% in College and 38% in University) and 42% of those had left education as a result of that bullying.

One respondent, for example, recounted: ‘I dropped out of the first university I went to due to homophobic bullying – it was a very small minded place full of very sheltered private school individuals. However, I have never experienced anything at my current university. I think it goes to show that the background of the students and the type of place have a massive impact.’

A further worrying statistic is that 33% of those who had experienced homophobic or biphobic bullying in education felt that discrimination had negatively affected their employment opportunities.

Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, Fergus McMillan said, ‘The launch of our research today at the Scottish Learning Festival is an appeal to all teachers, youth workers and other adults working with young people, to act now to challenge bullying based on prejudice.

‘We’re not yet getting it right for young people who experience discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity at school, college and in the wider community.’

LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Scotland.

Speaking with GSN, Colin Macfarlane, Director of Stonewall Scotland welcomed the report saying: ‘This report backs up what we found in our School Report. Too many young Scots face a daily gauntlet of terror in our playgrounds and in our classrooms simply because of who they are.

‘Stonewall Scotland works with schools across Scotland to ensure we equip teachers and young people with the confidence to tackle homophobia. Things are slowly getting better but much work still needs to be done.’

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