Survey shows continued bullying and harassment of LGBTI+ young people

Issues including non-inclusive sex education and lack of gender-neutral bathrooms

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone:  “This is a wake-up call for young people, campaigners and politicians gathering for Pride that our work is not over,” said Ms Zappone.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone: “This is a wake-up call for young people, campaigners and politicians gathering for Pride that our work is not over,” said Ms Zappone. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Members of the LGBTI+ community continue to be subjected to bullying, harassment and discrimination in Irish society despite the progress of recent years according to new research.

Preliminary results from a State-sponsored online survey of 4,000 young people found that more than a fifth of LGBTI+ respondents, which includes those who identify as gay, transgender and intersex, say they continually face bullying and harassment in public spaces, school and work.

Other issues that continue to cause anguish to LGBTI+ young people include non-inclusive sex education at primary and secondary level, and a lack of provision for gender-neutral bathrooms according to the survey results.

On the upside, respondents noted increasing levels of tolerance, openness and acceptance following the historic passing of the Marriage Equality Referendum in 2015.

The online consultations carried out by youth affairs platform SpunOut.ie earlier this year form part of the research phase for a world-first LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy which has been commissioned by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone.

Popular recommendations among those who took the survey include further law reform around areas such as hate crime legislation, gender recognition for under-18s and the removal of obstacles for adoption and surrogacy.

Sex education classes

In addition, the remit of sex education classes should be widened to include topics such as gender, relationships and sexuality on top of the core elements of safe sex and consent, and young people also want to see more LGBTI+ awareness training provided to healthcare staff.

“This is a wake-up call for young people, campaigners and politicians gathering for Pride that our work is not over,” said Ms Zappone.

“Even with these preliminary results it is clear the National Youth Strategy will require actions across Government. It will be challenging. However it is work we must commit to if we are to secure equality, fairness and justice for all,” she added.

Irish Times columnist Una Mullally is chair of the strategy, and she said a number of clear themes are emerging even at this early stage of its development.

“There is recognition of the social advances of recent years; however bullying, discrimination and isolation remain a reality for many young people,” she said.

The initial survey results were compiled in advance of today’s Dublin Pride parade, the pinnacle of a week-long festival of events in the capital.