73 percent of Irish LGBTI+ students feel unsafe at school, study shows
"I was sexually abused by the guys in the PE changing room age 14 to 17 ."
73 percent of Irish LGBTI+ students feel unsafe at school, a new study has shown.
Responses to the school climate survey have shown that many LGBTI+ students have experienced verbal (77 percent) or physical abuse (38 percent) in school.
Many others have also been sexually assaulted, and a substantial number have been bullied because of their sexual orientation.
The research showed that 68 percent of LGBTI+ students have heard homophobic remarks from other students, with 48 percent reporting that they heard similar remarks from teachers and staff members.
55 percent of LGBTI+ students also said that they heard transphobic remarks from teachers and staff members.
“I was sexually abused by the guys in the PE changing room age 14 to 17 on a weekly basis," reads one anonymous response from the survey.
"They would slap my ass, put their fingers up my ass, grope me and pull at my penis. I was terrified of PE and this affected my attendance on PE days.”
“I told my friends I was gay in first year and they outed me to everyone. It was horrible.
"People scribbled slurs on my photos around the school and wrote a slur on my locker in marker. I told my teacher and she basically told me I shouldn't have come out then, as if it was my choice in the first place.”
LGBTI+ charity BeLongTo have called on Minister for Education Joe McHugh, as well as secondary schools across the country, to address the results of the survey.
The group's CEO Moninne Griffith said that the survey must act as a "wake up call" for the government - and for the schools allowing the bullying and harassment of their students to go unnoticed.
"Despite misconceptions, growing up LGBTI+ isn’t all rainbows post-the marriage equality referendum," she said.
"Our findings indicate the intense discrimination, harassment, isolation and stigma that LGBTI+ students experience in Ireland.
"Worse still, the research reveals that some staff members turn a blind eye to, and sometimes even contribute, anti-LGBTI+ remarks. What about the Ireland we voted for? This report paints a picture of an Ireland we had hoped had been left behind."
The school climate survey was carried out in conjunction with BeLongTo and Colombia University. It is the largest research sample of LGBTI+ young people in schools in Ireland ever.
Research author, professor Oren Pizmony-Levy, said that countries progressing with LGBTI+ rights need to "pay attention to schools where the next generation is learning to lead us toward a more equitable and inclusive world."
"Our findings show that, similar to other countries, schools in Ireland have much work to do," he said.
"Research partnerships like this benefit higher education institutions, NGOs and LGBT+ youth we seek to serve. Documenting the experience of LGBT+ students is a critical first step toward ensuring that schools are welcoming to all students.”