The Eurydice Report provides important findings on LGBTQI students in European schools. Titled "Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Schools in Europe”, the report highlights many key findings on the challenges and barriers that LGBTQI face, and the current status of educational policies aimed at bridging the gap and addressing such disadvantages and discrimination.
Here are a few of the main findings for the report:
LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and other sexual identities) and religious minority students are far less frequently targeted by policies and measures designed to promote diversity and inclusion in schools.
Some individuals may encounter barriers to accessing resources, including quality mainstream education, and they may face discrimination. Discrimination can manifest as structural issues (such as segregation policies or a lack of resources to address specific needs), prejudice (both intentional and unintentional), and multifaceted challenges like bullying of LGBTQI+ students, which can be exacerbated if teachers are reluctant or unable to intervene.
Many targeted strategic policy frameworks prioritise the inclusion of Roma students, students with special educational needs or disabilities, and migrant and/or refugee students. In contrast, promoting gender equality, combating antisemitism, and addressing the discrimination of LGBTQI+ students receive less attention.
Approximately half of the education systems do not specifically target any group of learners when addressing diversity and inclusion in their curricula. Among those that do, the most commonly mentioned groups are students with special educational needs or disabilities and ethnic minority students, followed by migrant and refugee students, girls/boys, students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, and religious minority students. LGBTQI+ students are the least mentioned target group.
Curricula based on a state religion that do not allow for discussion of individual rights and diverse lifestyles can exacerbate tension and discrimination against LGBTQI+ students.
Few education systems report collaborating with organisations to advance the inclusion of LGBTQI+ students. Some countries like Denmark and Sweden, indicate general actions, such as providing information, teaching, and courses on various issues related to sex, gender, body, and sexuality. Other countries like Malta offer more specific support to students coming out, to transgender students in their transition, and in general to address homophobic and transphobic bullying.
In several European education systems, broader policy frameworks touch upon the concept of inclusivity for LGBTQI+ students, but it's noteworthy that specific legislation, strategies, or action plans directly targeting this group are reported in only a minority of these systems. For instance, Malta implemented a policy in 2015 to address the needs of trans, gender variant, and intersex students, while France, Italy, and Portugal have taken steps to address issues related to homophobia and transphobia in educational contexts. However, it's worth mentioning that a limited number of education systems have developed comprehensive policy frameworks primarily dedicated to countering antisemitism or addressing discrimination against LGBTIQ+ students. These concerns are often integrated into broader legal frameworks, which may not offer the same level of explicit support and protection.
Most targeted social and emotional support policies focus on students with special educational needs or disabilities, followed by refugee, migrant, and ethnic minority students. Only a few education systems report top-level policies and measures on learning and/or social-emotional support targeting girls or boys, and even fewer for LGBTQI+ or religious minority students. France and Malta are among the few countries with initiatives promoting social-emotional support for LGBTQI+ students.
The report also highlights crucial data from IGLYO's 2021 survey, which reveals that in Europe, 54% of LGBTQI+ youth surveyed had experienced bullying in school, and 83% had witnessed negative remarks based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The survey also shows that European teachers are often inadequately trained to address violence against LGBTQI+ students and tend not to intervene when incidents occur. Only one in three LGBTQI+ young people felt they received systemic support or protection during their school years over the previous decade.
Unfortunately, the report does not highlight the extent to which some Member States are implementing measures that threaten the inclusion of LGBTQI+ students in schools. As shown in our latest Inclusive Education Report, several EU Member States have implemented legislation or policies that put a gag order on supportive teachers and schools and prohibit the dissemination of positive content on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.
We will continue working to represent the needs of LGBTQI+ students in schools towards the European institutions, and will highlight the problems shown in reports like the one published by Eurydice, where we see that LGBTQI+ are less protected than other communities by inclusion and diversity policies and measures.
You can find the full Eurydice Report on this page.