In The South

LGBT+ students and staff continue to be bullied in colleges and universities

Gary Hart February 17, 2016

New research reveals harassment and bullying of LGBT+students and staff continues to be a problem in colleges and universities.



Sixty per cent of students have witnessed bullying based on sexual orientation, with one in 10 saying they see it every day, warns a new report released today.

The report, looking at bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT+) staff and students, also found that 17 per cent of staff have experienced name-calling at work, and one in 10 had been threatened or intimidated.

Pride and Prejudice in Education was produced by the National Union of Students, the Equality Challenge Unit, the Learning and Work Institute, the Skills Funding Agency, the University and College Union and the Forum for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality.

It calls on universities and colleges to provide good quality training and support for staff. It also recommends that institutions develop an inclusive curriculum, have zero tolerance for harassment of LGBT+ students and take action to prevent students dropping out due to discrimination.

Key findings from the report include:

♦    60% of respondents had witnessed a learner acting negatively towards people because of their sexual orientation at least once. One in 10 respondents saw or heard this behaviour every day.

♦     51% of lesbian and gay students and 59 per cent of non-binary students had experienced homophobic or transphobic name-calling.

♦     47% of non-binary students have seriously considered dropping out of their course, compared with 35 per cent of respondents on average.

♦     17% of staff respondents had experienced biphobic, homophobic or transphobic name-calling at work.

♦     13% had been harassed, one in 10 had been threatened or intimidated and 3 per cent had been physically assaulted.

♦      11% reported that they had experienced another kind of biphobic, homophobic or transphobic bullying.

♦      78% of respondents said they did know who to go to in their place of work if they experienced bullying.

♦     52% of staff said that no sexual orientation or gender identity equality training was provided for staff or learners where they worked.

Robbiie Young
Robbiie Young

Robbiie Young and Fran Cowling, National Union of Students LGBT+ officers, said: “It is deeply concerning to see how widespread the bullying and harassment of LGBT+ students is. Every student should feel safe while at college or university. They shouldn’t have to face name-calling and other bullying, or have to consider dropping out of their course because of the way they are treated by other students. NUS will be working with students’ unions to implement the recommendations in this report to create learning environments that are inclusive and welcoming for all LGBT+ students.”

Helen Carr
Helen Carr

Helen Carr, University and College Union head of equality, added: “While much is being done to address bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity in colleges and universities, there is no getting away from the fact that it is still a problem. The findings in this survey are consistent with a recent House of Commons report on transgender equality that called for better, and more readily available, training. While there is greater awareness of the issue and better structures in place to deal with bullying, this has not translated into incidents being properly dealt with or even reported.”

Clare Pavitt
Clare Pavitt

Clare Pavitt, Equality Challenge Unit senior policy adviser, said: “The experiences of LGBT+ staff in higher education appear to have improved from when we conducted similar research in 2008. However, there are still significant concerns that need addressing. The fact staff are still suffering physical attacks because of their sexual orientation is unacceptable. The recommendations in this report are sensible and achievable and ECU will work with higher education institutions to help them be delivered.”