LGBT students hide who they are

Research reveals that LGBT students face concerning levels of discrimination in British universities

Research released from Stonewall, the lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity, reveals that LGBT students face concerning levels of discrimination in British universities.

Based on YouGov polling of 522 LGBT university students, the research shows two in five LGBT students (42%) have hidden or disguised their sexual orientation and/or gender identity at university in the last year because they were afraid of discrimination. Over one in five bi students (22%) aren’t open with anyone at university about their sexual orientation, compared to 5% of gay and lesbian students.

LGBT students continue to be subject to abuse and discrimination from both peers and staff. In the last year, a third of LGBT students (33%) have been the target of negative comments or conduct from other students in the last year because they are LGBT, while one in seven LGBT students (14%) faced negative comments or conduct from university staff due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The situation is particularly worrying for trans students who face violence and abuse. Seven percent of trans students were physically attacked by another student or member of university staff because they are trans. Almost a quarter of trans students (23%) say they aren’t addressed with their correct name and pronoun, while one in seven (14%) had to drop out of a course or considered dropping out of a course because of harassment or discrimination. One in six trans students (17%) also reported being unable to use the toilet they feel comfortable with at university.

Minority groups within the LGBT community were also found to experience higher levels of harassment and discrimination. Almost half of disabled LGBT students (47%) experienced negative comments or conducts from other students. Over one third of black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT students (37%) and LGBT students of faith (37%) say they were excluded by other students, compared to 28% of all LGBT students.

While many universities have made great strides to support their LGBT students, this research shows there’s still more to do

However, many universities are now recognising the need to support their LGBT students. More than two thirds of LGBT students (69%) say their university has equalities policies that protect LGB people on campus, while half (50%) report their university has equalities policies that protect trans students. Universities who take steps to establish an inclusive environment have a real impact on the lives and well-being of LGBT students.

“University should be an exciting time when all students can learn, grow, and enjoy their independence,” said Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall. But our university report shows that discrimination and abuse continue to negatively impact the university experience for too many lesbian, gay, bi and trans students. They often don’t feel confident reporting incidents to staff, which means these incidents are left unchecked.

“The situation is especially concerning for trans students who face physical violence and are often not addressed by staff with their correct name and pronoun. This is unacceptable. While many universities have made great strides to support their LGBT students, this research shows there’s still more to do. By working together with LGBT students, universities can continue to build more welcoming learning environments, so every LGBT person is accepted without exception.”