Homophobia is rife at university, with one in five LGB+ students being harassed and bullied on campus, shocking research has revealed.
Only one in five trans students felt completely safe on campus, with a third saying they had experienced harassment. More than half of trans students have seriously considered dropping out of their course, according to the research by the National Union of Students (NUS).
The results reiterate research carried about by The Huffington Post UK earlier this year, which revealed Britain's universities were desperately trying to maintain there is no homophobia present on campus. Institutions were accused of "wandering around in the dark, not knowing what to do".
The NUS publication, titled 'education beyond the straight and narrow', was released on Monday and showed more than half of LGB+ respondents cited the feeling of not fitting in as the main reason for considering dropping out.
"Actually, I've seriously considered giving up my uni because coming out was so stressful and there seemed so little help or understanding, and if it wasn't for friends then I would have gone.” - Trans student
A focus group with trans students found that the main difficulties faced on campus for trans students are the lack of gender-neutral toilets and facilities, the lack of policies to update their name and gender in the student register, issues with university security services; and the prevalence of transphobia.
Only 16% of respondents who experienced physical assault based on their (perceived) sexuality or gender identity reported it to the police.
“Using words such as 'gay' in a derogatory way has become so commonplace, I don't feel justiﬁed speaking out against it. I'd feel like I'd be making a nuisance, even though every time I hear the word used in that way it continues to feed the idea that being gay is bad, despite being out. When the survey asked whether I believe people will intervene seeing transphobic/homophobic behaviour, I've rated it low because I've included using transphobic/homophobic language as trans/homophobic behaviour, whether or not it is used ﬂippantly.
"Making jokes about transgender people, either to poke fun or say they're 'disgusting', is completely socially acceptable." - Gay student
NUS is now calling for the enforcement of zero tolerance policies on campus specifically about homophobic and transphobic behaviour, harassment and bullying.
Sky Yarlett and Finn McGoldrick, NUS’ LGBT Officers, said: "This research confirms our fears about the impact that isolation, discrimination and coming out has on LGBT students. It’s appalling to hear that LGBT students don’t feel safe in an educational environment and are experiencing bullying just because of who they are.
"Many LGBT students continue to feel alone in education and society as a whole. Many suffer mental health and financial issues, and all too often we hear cases of LGBT students leaving education altogether as an indirect result of their identity.
"We can no longer ignore the plight of LGBT students. We absolutely need to enforce zero tolerance policies for homophobic and transphobic behaviour, 'banter', and bullying to make sure our campuses are inclusive and that all students, regardless of their sexuality or identity, have a chance to succeed."
“The general attitude on our campus is extremely anti-gay or bi, and I would not feel comfortable coming out to anyone. Completely believe that it would aﬀect marking of assignments. Not tolerant at all.” - Bisexual student
Luke Tryl, Head of Education, Stonewall, added: "This rigorous research from the NUS makes plain that too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans students don’t feel safe whilst studying and that too many universities haven’t yet taken the simple steps to make them feel both safe on campus and able to report harassment.
"We hope that all of Britain’s Higher Education institutions implement the recommendations of this report, and look forward to working with them and the NUS to make this happen."
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