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Research reveals harassment and bullying of LGBT+ students and staff in colleges and universities

17 February 2016 | last updated: 24 February 2016

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

The report, looking at bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) 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, Feb 16 [1mb] was produced by the University and College Union, National Union of Students, the Equality Challenge Unit, the Learning and Work Institute, the Skills Funding Agency 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 include:

  • 60 per cent 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 per cent of lesbian and gay students and 59 per cent of non-binary students had experienced homophobic or transphobic name-calling
  • 47 per cent of non-binary students have seriously considered dropping out of their course, compared with 35 per cent of respondents on average
  • 17 per cent of staff respondents had experienced biphobic, homophobic or transphobic name-calling at work
  • 13 per cent had been harassed, one in 10 had been threatened or intimidated and 3 per cent had been physically assaulted
  • 11 per cent reported that they had experienced another kind of biphobic, homophobic or transphobic bullying
  • 78 per cent of respondents said they did know who to go to in their place of work if they experienced bullying
  • 52 per cent of staff said that no sexual orientation or gender identity equality training was provided for staff or learners where they worked.


Helen Carr, University and College Union head of equality, said:  '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.'

Robbie 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.'

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