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Lgbtq
Education and

the LGBTQ+ Community

Key message

Education can be a powerful tool for ending discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals by teaching appreciation and respect for differences


Many schools are still not safe learning environments for LGBTQ+ children and youth. Inclusive and safe schools can also be positive environments for young people of the LGBTQ+ community, serving as a support system during crucial periods of personal development and as a young person’s identity shapes their engagement with the society around them.
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Key challenges
  • A significant proportion of LGBTQ+ students experience homophobic and transphobic violence in school. This is shown consistently in data from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and the Pacific, with the proportion affected ranging from 16% in Nepal to 85% in the US
    (UNESCO, 2016).
  • LGBTQ+ students report a higher prevalence of violence at school than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. In New Zealand, for example, lesbian, gay and bisexual students were three times more likely to be bullied than their heterosexual peers; in Norway 15-48% of lesbian, gay and bisexual students reported being bullied compared with 7% of heterosexual students
    (UNESCO, 2016).
  • Students targeted are more likely to feel unsafe in school, miss classes or drop out. For example, in the US, 70% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school; in Thailand, 31% of students who were teased or bullied for being or being perceived to be LGBT had r Students targeted are more likely to feel unsafe in school, miss classes or drop out. For example, in the US, 70% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school; in Thailand, 31% of students who were teased or bullied for being or being perceived to be LGBT had reported absence from school in the past month, and in Argentina, 45% of transgender students dropped out of school
    (UNESCO, 2016).
  • LGBTQ+ students consistently report a higher prevalence of violence compared with their non-LGBTQ+ peers. Male students who fail to conform to ‘masculine’ norms – i.e. those who are gay or bisexual, and male-to-female transgender students – seem more likely to be the targets of violence
    (UNESCO, 2016).
  • LGBTQ+ students avoid school activities if they feel unsafe. In a 2013 survey from Europe, which included Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Croatia and Poland, 49% of young LGBT respondents said they sometimes chose not to participate in class discussions
    (Formby, 2013).
  • LGBTQ+ youth are at a higher risk of dropping out of school. In Argentina, a study found 45% of transgender students dropped out of school, either due to transphobic bullying by their peers or being excluded by school authorities
    (UNESCO, 2012).
  • Hostile school climates impact on the educational attainment and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ youth. Students in hostile school environments are less likely to go to college and more likely to have self-esteem issues
    (GLSEN, 2015).
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Make the case
  • Safe schools promote higher attendance rates for LGBTQ+ youth. More than one-third of gay youth have missed a day of school because they felt unsafe, and nine out of ten of LGBT teenagers have been bullied in school, which can cause students to suffer academically
    (Century Foundation, 2016).
  • Teachers play a crucial role in supporting LGBTQ+ youth. . LGBTQ+ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year
    (Trevor Project, 2019).
  • Education can reduce bullying and harassment. Students who learn about LGBT issues in the curriculum report less harassment
    (Trevor Project, 2019).
  • Education can reduce bullying and harassment. Students who learn about LGBT issues in the curriculum report less harassment
    (Century Foundation, 2016).
  • Quality education for boys creates more tolerant societies. A global study found that boys and young men who are more educated are less homophobic
    (ICRW, 2011).
  • Better education increases tolerance of sexual orientation. In Argentina, people with a secondary education were nearly one quarter less likely to express homophobic attitudes than those with a primary education
    (EFA GMR, 2014).
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Key opinions
Fabrice Houdart
Fabrice Houdart
Managing Director, Out Leadership
The single most important channel to overcome intolerance, discrimination and violence against LGBTQ people is through education and the exposure to different life expereiences and viewpoints that it offers. Advancement in education is part of the recipe for social change that led to a radical shift in public attitudes on LGBTQ inclusion we witnessed in many parts of the world
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David Mixner 386404
David Mixner
Activist
Knowledge is power. Power leads to Freedom. Freedom leads to personal self esteem and a more loving society. Education makes all of this possible. Not educating our children is dooming them to years of oppression and discrimination
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Key talking points
  • LGBTQ+ students are significantly more likely to be bullied at school than their heterosexual peers.
  • Homophobic and transphobic violence affects students’ education, employment prospects and wellbeing.
  • Safe schools increase school attendance for LGBTQ+ students.
  • Education promotes appreciation and respect for differences, contributing towards an end to discrimination for LGBTQ+ students.
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