Schools and Education

LGBT Young People and Education

The Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People: Education report found that education is the location where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people feel they face the most discrimination, with schools rated as the worst experience of all institutions.

  • 69.1% of all LGBT respondents had experienced homophobic or biphobic bullying in school and 76.9% of transgender young people had experienced homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying

  • 45% of all respondents stated that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the educational institution, regardless of whether or not they had experienced direct bullying, had a negative impact on their education

  • 10% of all respondents had left education as a result of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia

  • 14.3% of all LGBT young people left education as a result of experiencing bullying and 42.3% of young people who had experienced transphobic bullying left.

Key Issues

Isolation and fears about coming out as LGB or T to friends and family can impact on how young people feel about themselves and affect their school experiences and attainment. This is exacerbated by experiencing homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying.

Living with stigma and discrimination can negatively impact on an individual’s mental health. It can affect an individual’s self-worth, confidence, leave them feeling isolated and depressed, or having suicidal thoughts and actions. Gay and bisexual men are 4 times more likely to report a serious suicide attempt than their heterosexual peers[1] and transgender people are 7.7 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population [2].

Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying can be hidden forms of bullying as LGBT identities are invisible and many barriers to reporting exist.

  • In environments where homophobia, transphobia and biphobia go unchallenged, young people may not recognise their rights to report bullying or may not believe that the staff or institution will take the issue seriously.

  • For many young people, reporting to teachers can feel like coming out.


LGBT Youth Scotland works in partnership with Schools, Universities and Colleges to create more inclusive learning environments for LGBT young people. We work closely with the Scottish Government to support the inclusion of LGBT young people in key policy documents and can provide information, training and resources for staff in educational establishments.

We are a managing partner of the organisation respectme Scotland’s anti bullying service, alongside SAMH (Scottish Association of Mental Health); and have a clear mandate develop and implement initiatives that aim to reduce prejudice based bullying in Scottish Schools.

 “Schools and the wider learning community are safe and welcoming environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people in order that they can become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.” (LGBT Youth Scotland’s Strategic Outcome 4)


LGBT Youth Scotland believes that LGBT young people should have educational opportunities that allow them to achieve their full potential.

Our youth services are specifically designed to provide informal learning opportunities for young people. Services that we provide across Scotland can vary however, key elements of our work with young people include:

· Educational group work within our existing youth groups and events, covering a range of topics including sexual health and relationships, building confidence and self-esteem and internet safety.

· Person centred 1-2-1 meetings which can support young people to make informed choices regarding educational opportunities or provide advocacy and advice for those young people experiencing difficulties within educational settings.

· Youth-led projects where young people can gain skills including team working and leadership. Where possible, young have opportunities to have their work at accredited and/ or certificated.

All of our work is ‘youth-led’ and can be aligned to the Four Capacities and Experiences and Outcomes outlined in Curriculum for Excellence.

Further information and resources can be found here:


·     Toolkit for Teachers & Lesson Plans
·     Curriculum for Excellence
·     Research in Scottish Schools
·     Challenging Homophobia Together Schools Project
·     Frequently Asked Questions
·     Toolkit for Colleges and Universities
·     Training/ CPD for Staff

[1] McAndrew, S and T. Warne 2004. ‘Ignoring the Evidence Dictating the Practice: Sexual Orientation, Suicidality and the Dichotomy of the Mental Health Nurse.’ in Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. 11: 428-434. 

[2] Office for National Statistics 2002:2 cited in Richie, Roch and Morton 2010 Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Transgender People’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse. LGBT Youth Scotland and Scottish Transgender Alliance.