Prejudice-Based Bullying Research

The Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland has commissioned a project exploring prejudice-based bullying and harassment in schools, which is being conducted by researchers from LGBT Youth Scotland and respectme. 

The research focuses on all protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010 and aims to gain an insight into pupil and teacher experiences as well as current policies and practices across the country. 

The current policy landscape in Scotland provides a range of guidance, frameworks and legislation that can be used to develop an education system that meets health and wellbeing outcomes for all pupils and supports them to become successful learners. Prejudice-based harassment, for instance, may be prevented and addressed through:

  • National Approach to Anti-Bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People
  • Curriculum for Excellence
  • Getting it Right for Every Child
  • Equality Act 2010


While there are clear examples of good practice taking place across Scotland, a body of evidence [1][2][3][4]suggests that many Education Authorities could improve their response to prejudice-based harassment. 

The 'Good Relations in Schools' project has two phases: a research stage exploring the scope and scale of prejudice-based harassment in Scottish secondary schools and considering pupil experiences and existing good practice; and an improvement stage which will develop an approach for an improvement intervention in a selected school.

The research phase has begun and is being conducted by LGBT Youth Scotland and respectme. They are undertaking a range of activities in order to build evidence on current experiences in Scotland. We are asking for support from all local authorities with the following activities: 

  • Survey aimed at education staff based in schools (teaching and non-teaching) across all local authorities to create a picture of staff confidence on anti-bullying policies and responding to prejudice-based bullying and harassment. This will be live through the end of April.
  • Survey for secondary pupils across all local authorities on their understandings and experiences of prejudice-based bullying and harassment and experiences of any school prevention programmes. This will be live through the end of April.
  • Providing us with information on recorded incidents, including any explanatory or supporting documents to inform our understanding of the scale of prejudice-based bullying and harassment.


We will be able to provide you with a summary of the survey data gathered within your local authority once the survey is complete.

We also ask for further involvement from a number of local authorities:

  • Qualitative interviews with strategic equality leads for their perspectives on staff reception to work around prejudice based harassment and any experience of particular initiatives. This should correspond with the focus groups.
  • Focus groups with pupils in five local authorities on their rights under the Equality Act 2010, how easy they feel it would be for their peers to report prejudice-based bullying, and their suggestions for improvements.
  • Identifications of local authority-led good practice in the area of preventing or responding to prejudice-based bullying or harassment. We have a target of eight areas.
  • These will be complete by the end of April 2014.


The research aims to gain a clearer understanding of how anti-bullying work is undertaken across the country, as well as the lived experiences of prejudice based harassment.  As we are looking for a true depiction of Scotland at present, we are not going to be ‘ranking’ local authorities nor do we want to only focus on those who have few improvements to make.

Please contact us if you have any further questions or are interested in supporting the interviews and focus groups within your local authority.

Brandi Lee Lough Dennell, Policy and Participation Manager

brandilee.loughdennell@lgbtyouth.org.uk or 0141 552 7425

Caitlin Logan, Research Assistant

caitlin.logan@lgbtyouth.org.uk or 0141 552 7425

[1] Prevention and Response to Identity Based Bullying among Local Authorities in England, Scotland and Wales – Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010)

[2]The School Report - Experiences of Gay Young People in Scotland’s Schools -  Stonewall Scotland (2012)

[3] Racist Incident reporting in Scotland’s Schools – Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (2012)

[4] Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People: Education Report - LGBT Youth Scotland (2012)