BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Homophobic language and bullying are prevalent in schools across Northern Ireland with 98 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth reporting hearing homophobic language in school from pupils, teachers, non-teaching staff and visitors to schools, according to a new study released Wednesday.
The joint study — “Left out of the Equation” — conducted by LGBT advocacy groups theRainbow Project and Cara-friend.org.uk, reports that 72 percent of survey respondents reported that when teachers heard homophobic language, they ignored it, and 94 percent of respondents reported they were taught nothing in sexual health education which was relevant to them as an LGB person.
The study highlights the severe inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay and bisexual students in the schools of Northern Ireland. The report looks at bullying, curriculum, the role of teachers and the education structures of the schools.
“LGB young people are one of the most invisible, isolated and vulnerable groups in our society. Homophobic bullying is rife in schools across Northern Ireland and it continues, unchallenged, because school staff lack the capacity, confidence or will to tackle it.”
“Many LGB young people experience severe emotional, verbal and physical abuse while they are at school and yet continue to suffer in silence because they do not want to ‘out’ themselves, because they believe that the school would look unfavourably upon them, or because they do not believe that the school will take any appropriate action.”
“Although many young LGB people are coming out at an earlier age, many spend their time in school trying to conceal their sexual orientation from their parents, teachers, peers and even themselves.”
“This report shows that when it comes to education, young people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual are left out of the equation,” said Gavin Boyd, the Rainbow Project’s Education Equality Officer.
“They get severely bullied but frequently don’t tell anyone because they don’t believe their school will do anything about it. They hear homophobic slurs every day but teachers don’t intervene,” he said.
“They aren’t taught that they can have stable and fulfilling relationships. They aren’t taught how to gauge risk and protect themselves from mental and sexual ill-health. They are simply expected to suffer in silence.”
A copy of the report is here (PDF).