TWO Cork groups have called for urgent action to ensure schools are safe, welcoming places for all students, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
The calls come after a recent survey found that 73% of LGBTI+ students feel unsafe at school.
The 2019 School Climate Survey found that some 77% of LGBTI+ students experienced verbal harassment, 38% experienced physical harassment, and 11% experienced physical assault based on their sexual orientation, gender or gender expression.
While 68% of LGBTI+ students said they hear anti-LGBTI+ remarks from other students, 48% reported hearing homophobic remarks – and a further 55% reported hearing transphobic remarks – from teachers and staff members. The report also found that LGBTI+ students are 27% more likely to miss school and eight percent less likely to pursue third-level education.
“It’s alarming that 73% of lesbian, gay, bi and transgender teenagers feel unsafe at school,” said Pádraig Rice, Director of the Gay Project in Cork. “Most Irish people were really proud when we became the first country in the world to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote. We need a similar effort now to transform our schools into safe and welcoming places for all.”
Mr Rice called for urgent action from Boards of Management and the Department of Education on homophobic remarks by teachers or staff in schools. “I’ve heard it first hand from the young people that we support - they have told me that they have had to drop out of sports clubs because of things that were said to them, others mentioned being pushed and shoved and teased for being gay,” he said. “Too often these issues are ignored by schools and clubs.”
Kate Moynihan, Coordinator of Lesbians In Cork (LINC), added: “We pride ourselves as a society for bringing in marriage equality, yet four and a half years later our young people are not being supported. It is heartbreaking that another generation of young LGBTI+ young people are facing this.”