LGBT students entering higher education may have previously experienced bullying at school or college. The School Report found that one in three lesbian, gay or bi young people who are bullied consider changing their future educational plans because of it, for instance by deciding not to go to university or college. Universities that take steps to combat homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and promote their work in this area, will encourage these young people to carry on in education and to apply to study at their institutions. Higher education can be a place where LGBT young people often have very positive experiences, however homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying still occurs at university.
Why does it matter?
The extent of bullying in HE
2014 research by the National Union of Students (NUS), Education Beyond the Straight and Narrow, found that twenty per cent of LGB+, and a third of trans respondents, have experienced at least one form of bullying or harassment on campus.
LGBT students who have experienced a form of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic harassment are 2–3 times more likely to consider leaving their course. LGB+ students are more likely to consider dropping out than heterosexual students. More than half of LGB+ respondents (56 per cent) cited the feeling of not fitting in as the main reason for considering dropping out.
LGBT students who are out to their tutors tend to feel more confident to speak up in class (89 per cent) than those who are only out to their friends (79 per cent).
What the law says
Universities have a duty to prevent and tackle all forms of bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and they cannot discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or perceived gender identity against a student, tutor or other members of staff.
The Public Sector Equality Duty requires all public bodies, including universities and higher education institutions, to eradicate discrimination, advance equality and foster good relations - this means preventing and tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and language and supporting LGBT students.
How can I do something about it?
The Stonewall University Guide scores each UK university against a checklist of ten things we think universities should have in place in order to provide the best environment for LGBT students.