Ten years ago, Stonewall launched the first School Report, a ground-breaking study into the
experiences of 1,100 lesbian, gay and bi pupils in Britain’s schools. Published four years after
the repeal of Section 28, it revealed a startling picture: two in three lesbian, gay and bi pupils
had been bullied at school because of their sexual orientation, and just one in four schools
said this bullying was wrong.
In response, over the past decade Stonewall has worked with governments, schools and local authorities across Britain to help them
combat this bullying and create inclusive schools. In 2015 Stonewall extended its remit to campaign for trans equality, and I am delighted
that this report includes the specific experiences of trans pupils.
School Report 2017, a study of over 3,700 lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) pupils across Britain, demonstrates the continued impact of
this work. Since the 2007 School Report, the number of lesbian, gay and bi pupils bullied because of their sexual orientation has fallen by
almost a third. The number of schools who say this bullying is wrong has nearly trebled, and homophobic remarks are far less likely to be
heard. Thanks to the dedication of teachers, schools and governments across Britain, more LGBT young people than ever are able to be
themselves at school.
But while there is much to celebrate, this study shows how much there is left to do. Nearly half of LGBT young people are still bullied for
being LGBT at school, and only one in five have learnt about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships at school. LGBT young people
continue to experience unacceptably high levels of poor mental health. Online, nearly all LGBT pupils are exposed to offensive content
about LGBT people, and just one in three think that online companies will do something about it if reported.
For trans pupils in particular, the findings are alarming: nearly two in three trans pupils are bullied for being LGBT at school, one in
ten have received death threats, and more than two in five have tried to take their own lives. While a growing number of schools are
supporting their trans pupils, too many are not equipped to do so. It is vital that this is remedied as a matter of urgency.
At the same time, LGBT young people who are disabled, or who receive free school meals, are at heightened risk of being bullied and
experiencing poor mental health. LGBT young people who are black, Asian and minority ethnic are particularly unlikely to have someone at
home they can talk to about being LGBT, while bi and trans young people suffer from a persistent lack of role models at school. It is clear
that much remains to be done until every young person in Britain can grow up free to reach their full potential.
But while the challenges that remain are significant, there is cause for optimism. Thanks to government and cross-party support,
compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE) is set to become a reality in England’s schools. This is a vital step towards ensuring
that all young people are equipped to make informed decisions about their lives and relationships. It is crucial that updated RSE guidance
explicitly includes LGBT young people, and is supported by high-quality resources and training for teachers.
As we look ahead, we must keep sight of our shared mission: to create a world where every young person can grow up happy, healthy and
supported to reach their full potential. While much has changed over the past decade, it is clear we cannot be complacent in the fight for
equality. So let’s reflect on what’s been achieved, establish what needs to be done, and work together to create a world where every young
person can be themselves.