52% of young Irish LGBTI people ‘face abuse at school’

Respondents experienced homophobic and transphobic comments or conduct

More than 52 per cent of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans and intersex) young people have experienced homophobic or transphobic name-calling while at school in Ireland, according to a Unesco study.

The survey, the largest such carried out in Europe, found that 68 per cent of respondents experienced homophobic and transphobic comments or conduct while at school.

The study Out In The Open was conducted in 2013 among 93,000 LGBT people across 28 European countries.

Findings from individual countries notes that LGBT students are targets of some form of homophobic and transphobic violence, ranging from between 23 per cent in the Netherlands to 67 per cent in Turkey.

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The most common form of homophobic and transphobic violence reported across the continent was psychological violence.

The report was published on Tuesday to coincide with International Day of Action Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and a meetng of international education ministers, hosted by Unesco in Paris.

‘Call for Action’

It is the largest gathering at such a high level intended to tackle homophobic and transphobic violence in education. The ministers are expected to release a ‘Call for Action’ to affirm their commitment to ensure the right to quality education for all students.

The Unesco report provides the first ever global synthesis of data on violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in education as well as responses to this internationlly.

In general it found that homophobic and transphobic violence is also associated with poorer than average physical and mental health, including increased risk of anxiety, fear, depression, self-harm and suicide.

The Irish figures are based on a 2009 study by Glen, (the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network), BeLonGTo, and the HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention.

An updated report, published last March, found that in Ireland “going to school continues to be a very difficult experience for many young LGBTI people.”

It found that 67 per cent witnessed bullying of other LGBTI students in their school while 50 per cent had personally experienced anti-LGBTI bullying.

Further, one in four had missed or skipped school to avoid negative treatment due to being LGBTI while one in four also had considered leaving school early. Approximately one in 20 had actually quit school because of such treatment.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times