In the past 20 years or so, we’ve become more and more aware of the different types of identities that people can subscribe to, whether it be gender, sexuality, or otherwise.
Students who identify as LGBTQ+ can suffer at school as they feel targeted and excluded. Keeping these students safe can be a daunting prospect without the proper resources, ideas or understanding of the issues they face in education.
A recent study done in the summer by Just Like Us & Cibyl about growing up as LGBTQ+ details how even in 2021, queer-identifying students are more at risk at schools:
42% of LGBTQ+ students have been bullied in the last year, which is exactly double the number of non-LGBTQ+ (21%).
Another damning statistic found in Just Like Us’ research is that LGBTQ+ young people are twice as likely to contemplate suicide than a non-LGBTQ+ young person, with Black LGBTQ+ people three times more likely (Just Like Us 2021).
It’s not only students at schools who suffer though, as 43% of school staff in the survey were unsure whether colleagues who were LGBTQ+ would be comfortable in coming out to them at their school.
The lack of LGBTQ+ staff in schools directly affects the students too, as Stonewall’s report in 2017 suggests that queer-identifying role models can be a huge help to LGBTQ+ young people:
Openly LGBTQ+ role models and allies at home, at school, in the local community or in the public eye play a crucial role in supporting many LGBTQ+ young people to be themselves.
So, how can we help make these young people feel safer and more included? Well one way is to provide a form of alternative provision for these students.
LGBTQ+ students are no different from any other students, they need a place where they feel safe and accepted to really thrive, which is why putting them in an environment with other people who identify the same as them can be extremely beneficial.
LGBTQ+ children and young people are more likely to feel safe, happy and fulfil their potential if they feel able to be themselves and valued for who they are, feel included and part of the school, college or setting’s community, have access to resources and information that reflect who they are, are shown visible role models to reassure them that LGBTQ+ people can be happy and successful.
Another benefit of providing LGBTQ+ students with alternative provision is that their attendance is likely to go up, as LGBTQ+ attendance at schools can be an issue.
Seven in ten LGBTQ+ pupils (70 per cent) – including eight in ten trans pupils (80 per cent) – have skipped school overall.
Ofsted produced a study in 2016 all about alternative provision, and in their study, they found that most of the students were well receptive to it.
The overwhelming majority of pupils had positive comments to make about their enjoyment of the provision, what they were learning, how well they were supported, and the impact the provision was having on their behaviour, attitudes, attendance, and outcomes at school.
As well as alternative provision away from schools, there’s a lot more that schools can be doing within their walls to make sure LGBTQ+ students have the same experiences as other students. For example, putting more LGBTQ+ literature in their libraries.
This is something echoed by J. Walker and J. Bates in their study on LGBTQ+ provision developments in secondary schools:
There is a clear need for positive, knowledgeable library staff, and more visible LGBTQ services and resources, so that young people know support is available and that they can access LGBTQ material without having to ask for help.
This would not only help non-LGBTQ+ students’ understanding, but teachers’ and staff’s too, as many of them wouldn’t know what to do when LBGTQ+ students are being bullied.
Many teachers report high levels of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) language and bullying and feel unequipped to tackle it, or to provide adequate support for LGBT children and young people.
EDCLASS CAN HELP LGBTQ+ STUDENTS FEEL SAFER
EDClass can be a great help with LGBTQ+ students and helping them to succeed.
The platform has multiple LGBTQ+ students who have benefitted from their time with us.
Jude, who struggled with mainstream education after coming out as trans, thrived on the EDClass platform, dramatically increasing their confidence as a result.
EDClass can help safeguard vulnerable children and support their education. Alerts are triggered when a child feels unsafe encouraging an improvement in mental health and boosts in attainment levels.