Published by The Strathclyde Telegraph.
More than half of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) students have experienced homophobic or transphobic abuse in further and higher education, according to a new National Union of Students (NUS) study.
The Pride and Prejudice in Education research into the extent of bullying and harassment experienced by LGBT+ students and staff at colleges and universities found that out of 1,505 respondents, 60% had experienced abuse, with a further one in 10 witnessing intimidating behaviour every day.
Out of 930 students and 575 staff surveyed, 78% also said they did not know who to go to if they experienced bullying.
Robbiie Young and Fran Cowling, LGBT+ officers at NUS, 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.”
They added: “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.”
NUS said the survey findings suggest that homophobic and transphobic abuse directed at LGBT+ students also has an impact on their learning and retention levels, with gay/lesbian and non-binary learners more than twice as likely as average students to consider abandoning their course.
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 report calls for colleges and universities to: do more to prevent LGBT+ students from dropping out as a result of bullying, improve training and support for staff, develop inclusive curriculum content, and adopt zero tolerance policies for harassment.
Helen Carr, Head of Equality at the University and College Union, 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.’
Support for LGBT+ students at the University of Strathclyde is available through the Advice Hub and the Strathclyde LGBT+ Society. Information on how to report bullying and abuse based on sexual orientation or gender identity is available on the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association (USSA) website.
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