Yesterday, BeLonG To LGBT+ Youth Services launched their 2022 School Climate Survey in partnership with the Teachers College, Columbia University.
This trailblazing report uncovers the reality of life at school for 1,208 LGBTQ+ students across Ireland.
The results paint a picture of a hostile school environment for many LGBTQ+ students, presenting significant risks to their wellbeing, mental health, and educational outcomes.
An alarmingly high number, 76% of LGBTQ+ students, do not feel safe at school in Ireland. Many participants report experiences of bullying and physical, verbal, and sexual harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
BeLonG To’s long-term commitment is towards creating safe and supportive schools for LGBTQ+ students. The findings show that while progress is slow, hope is on the horizon thanks to the actions of supportive school staff, practices, and policies.
While the results of this research are distressing, students also reported how effective school-based interventions can improve the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ young people.
An astounding and heart-warming 99% of LGBTQ+ students told the survey that they know at least one school staff member supportive of LGBTQ+ identities.
BeLonG To has seen year-on-year growth in participation in Stand Up Awareness Week, their annual LGBTQ+ anti-bullying campaign, with 75% of second-level schools participating last year and hundreds of schools participating this week. Earlier this year, they were thrilled by the volume of schools that applied to participate in our year-long whole-school community LGBTQ+ Quality Mark.
Findings show that this level of support leads to LGBTQ+ students being more likely to feel accepted by their peers, having an increased sense of belonging, and being less likely to miss school to avoid victimisation.
The powerful, positive impact of inclusive and supportive teachers is life-changing and lifesaving for students. It is here BeLonG To will focus their efforts, to support schools and to call on policymakers to take steps to make schools safer spaces for all students.