New Research Shows More Than Half of LGBTQ Youth Bullied at School, and Teachers Often Do Nothing

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday May 17, 2021

New research shows more than half of LGBTQ youth report having been bullied at school, with 58% of those who are bullied saying they don't bother to report to teachers because they often do nothing — even when they see it happening, Forbes has reported.

This research was conducted by the International LGBTQI Youth and Student Organization along with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, with the results being published in a report titled "Don't Look Away: No Place for Exclusion of LGBTI Students."

"Fifty-four percent of LGBTQI people have experienced bullying in school at least once based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or variations of sex characteristics, according to a survey of more than 17,000 children and young people aged 13 to 24," the IGLYO summarized, per the organization's website.

"The survey also showed that 83% of students had at least sometimes heard negative comments towards LGBTQI students, and 67% had been the target of negative comments at least once."

"Interventions by teachers and other school staff upon hearing negative remarks and bullying are vital to an inclusive education system," IGLYO noted, though Forbes summarized the report's findings with the observation that a third of those surveyed said they didn't bother reporting bullying "because school staff had not done anything about previous incidents. Teachers were present for more than half of incidents, but 80% of students said teachers never or rarely intervened."

The report was released on May 17 in conjunction with International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia, and Transphobia.

"Despite changes in many countries' national discourse, many LGBTI students still feel unsafe and unwelcome in school," said IGLYO Interim Executive Director Jonathan Beger.

As Berger added, the COVID-19 pandemic may have worsened the situation: "There is a real fear that the isolation and permanent shift to online interactions this past year will have turned the dial up on bullying and marginalization as well."

IGLYO reported that — according to an analysis by UNESCO's Global Education Monitoring Report — "discrimination against LGBTI students is a global phenomenon," and cited statistics in the U.S. showing that "12.5% of lesbian, gay and bisexual students reported not going to school at least once in the previous 30 days because they felt unsafe at or on their way to and from school, compared with fewer than 4.6% of heterosexual students."

"Curricula and learning materials either ignore entirely or misrepresent and pathologize LGBTI identities," IGLYO noted. "Fewer than one in five respondents to the survey reported having been taught positive representations of LGBTI people in school."

The report also noted that in many nations worldwide, "conditions do not even allow such data to be collected," and called on governments to "protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex learners, improve monitoring of school-based bullying and violence, and create a positive, supportive learning environment."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.