Young people experience the highest levels of discrimination across all age groups within the LGBTI population, according to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s second edition of the EU LGBTI Survey, launched today (Thursday 14 May 2020). ‘A long way to go for LGBTI equality’ report looks at the experiences of discrimination and hate crime as well as the views and challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people across the European Union, North Macedonia and Serbia. This data will be used to inform the development of the European Commission’s LGBTI Equality Strategy due this year. It should also drive policy measures to protect further and promote the rights of LGBTI people across EU Member States.
IGLYO welcomes the findings of this survey, which also collects information about the experiences of LGBTI people under 18 for the first time. The study received 18,681 responses from 15-17 years old, and 49,761 from 18-24 years old. “The high levels of participation from young people in the survey and the stark results for their age groups should sound the alarm to the EU and its Member States. LGBTI young people are experiencing unacceptably high levels of discrimination and harassment and urgently need robust and explicit protections in laws, policies and practices, especially within education”, says Euan Platt, IGLYO’s Executive Director.
The report reveals that youth (aged 15 to 24) is currently the age group which not only experiences the highest levels of discrimination, but feels the impact of it most acutely: the majority of young adolescents who participated in the survey (aged 15 to 17) felt discriminated against in some area of life (53 %). This share is even higher for trans (69 %) and intersex (65 %) respondents of the same age. By contrast, young people are much more likely to hide or disguise their sexual orientation or gender identity out of fear of violence: although less than a quarter of respondents say that they are very open about being LGBTI (23 %), younger people are even less likely to be open (only 12 % of those aged 18 to 24 and 5 % of those aged 15 to 17). “The survey shows that discrimination and harassment is a reality for far too many LGBTI young people. As a result, we often have to hide who we are or avoid certain places. The message is clear: LGBTI youth do not feel safe”, states Petra Tomašić, IGLYO’s Co-Chair.
The report also shows that 11 % of LGBTI respondents in the EU were physically or sexually attacked in the five years before the survey because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. These attacks are more common among young adults aged 18 to 24 (14 %), trans (17 %) and intersex (22 %) respondents. Likewise, respondents aged 15 to 17 and 18 to 24 report more often experiencing harassment for being LGBTI (47 % and 45 % respectively, in comparison to 38 % for 25 to 39, 32 % for 40 to 54, and 24 % for 55+).
Among young adolescents, 51% of this harassment involved perpetrators from school or college, which means schools are still an unsafe space for many young people, but educational institutions may and should play a key role in preventing and addressing this type of violence. “IGLYO’s own research also shows that many hate-motivated violence and harassment against LGBTI youth happen in schools or are perpetrated by their peers. This situation is reinforced when the school does not have any policy to address and prevent bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics, and cannot provide a safe, inclusive and supportive environment for all learners”, adds Rubén Ávila, IGLYO’s Policy & Research Manager.
The experiences of school are still negative for most LGBTI young people. The study shows that only less than half young adolescents (48 %) and 1 in 3 young adults (33 %) have always or often received support or protection from someone during their school time. The report also states that LGBTI issues are only being addressed positively in 13 % of the cases, and in 19 % in a neutral and balanced way, for respondents aged 15 to 17. On the contrary, 10 % said teachers addressed LGBTI issues negatively, and 47 % that they were never addressed. This demonstrates most EU schools are still lacking inclusive national curricula. “Member States need to implement concrete anti-bullying policies, including training for school staff, as many report that they still lack the confidence or knowledge to tackle LGBTI issues. Civil society organisations and youth groups can and should be encouraged to play a central role in collaborating with States on this”, says Petra Tomašić, IGLYO’s Co-Chair.
In the last two decades, EU Member States and international institutions have made clear political commitments to protect the rights of all citizens. IGLYO urges European policy makers to be proactive on LGBTI equality policies and legislation, especially for young people. Laws must be effectively enforced so that LGBTI youth feel secure in our everyday lives, and Member States should be helped and pressured to make sure no-one is attacked based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. Legal protection should also explicitly forbid violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics on education.
Following FRA’s opinion in the report, the European Union should “ensure that all educational settings, in particular schools, provide a safe and supportive environment, free from bullying and violence for LGBTI children and young people. This could include the development and implementation of measures, in close cooperation with teachers and school administrations that address bullying of LGBTI students and teachers”. IGLYO also demands that EU Member States urgently revise educational and training curricula and materials, so they do not convey negative messages of LGBTI people and incorporate positive and diverse representations of the community.
“The EU is currently facing a critical moment. We encourage Member States to actively take stock of this situation and address this actively. FRA’s survey results show what we all knew: young LGBTI people are at a higher risk of facing discrimination and hate-motivated violence, and these attacks often happen in schools and/or by peers. Governments must warrant the right of life and education of all children and young people, they cannot look away from these numbers”, adds Euan Platt, IGLYO’s Executive Director.
“Governments know what they need to do. IGLYO has already provided clear guidance on the measures which need to be taken, supported by UNESCO and other partners. We need anti-bullying policies, inclusive education curricula, teacher training, support systems for victims and data collection. We also need concrete guidelines for trans, gender variant and intersex young people in schools. We call on EU Member States to work on designing and implementing policy measures that translate into a safer and more inclusive school environment for us all.”, concludes Petra Tomašić, IGLYO’s Co-Chair.
Read more information about the survey here, or access the LGBTI survey online data explorer.
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