Pearson Education finds only 6% of teachers think schools are LGBT+ inclusive

by Suha Yassin
July 2022

School classroom

Pearson Education has released new research finding that only 6% of teachers think schools are LGBT+ inclusive. Suha Yassin is their Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

At Pearson, we believe everyone should have the same opportunity to achieve their full potential and to be successful in education, and in later life – whatever their background, life circumstances or identity. That’s why we’re working hard to ensure that education is inclusive.

Pearson Education’s new research on LGBT+ inclusion in schools

Pearson Education research showing teachers think schools are not LGBT+ inclusive
Only 6% of teachers said they think schools are LGBT+ inclusive

Shaped by the views of thousands of teachers and leaders, both our Diversity and Inclusion in schools report and recently released Pearson School Report show progress and optimism when it comes to building a more inclusive and diverse education system.

But they also highlight how more needs to be done to ensure learners who are LGBT+, disabled, from Black, Asian and/or minoritised ethnicities, disadvantaged backgrounds and/or have special educational needs feel represented, included and can aspire and achieve without limits.

We know that alongside educators, parents and carers play a vital role in helping to make this a reality too, so we’ve also worked with national parenting charity Parentkind on their new research showcasing parents’ important perspectives in this area.

So, as another academic year draws to a close, what have we learnt from schools and families when it comes to inclusion, and specifically LGBT+ inclusion in education? Here are a few of my insights.

Teachers feel more could be done to support LGBT+ pupils

When we asked 7,000 educators for our Pearson School Report for their views on the aspiration and achievement of certain groups of learners, we learnt that only 6% of teachers feel that the education system is effectively supporting LGBT+ pupils to aspire and achieve. 

Pearson Education research showing teachers think schools are not LGBT+ inclusive
New research from Pearson Education

The most common suggestion to raise aspirations and outcomes for all learners from both teachers and parents was to support greater flexibility to adapt teaching to suit the different ways that pupils learn.

Schools want greater diversity in the curriculum

Pearson’s collaboration with Parentkind also led to the finding that only a third of parents and teachers believe non-binary identities are well-represented in resources, topics and materials taught in school. This figure that rises to 39% of parents and 40% of teachers in the case of LGBT+ identities.

It may not be a surprise then, that teachers are keen to advance the curriculum.

Our research in these areas found that just under six in 10 headteachers are planning to diversify their curriculum topics to cover race/gender/disability in the next two years. Plus, four in five believe that more can be done to celebrate diverse cultures, people and experiences in UK education.

Encouragingly, parents and teachers alike are also confident on the whole in talking to children and young people about topics and issues such as LGBT+ community and injustices, as well as LGBT+ and non-binary definitions.

Developing tolerance and better mental health are top priorities

The impact of not seeing yourself or your community reflected in what you learn can have a lasting effect on your mental health and wellbeing, outcomes and how prepared you are for life in the modern world.

We also know that research suggests that children and young people are more likely to be bullied in schools because of their race, faith, gender, disability, sexual orientation or trans status.

It was therefore inspiring to see how passionate educators are when it comes to supporting wellbeing and developing tolerance among their pupils.

As our School Report revealed, most teachers want the curriculum to develop characteristics like kindness, tolerance of diverse opinions and social and cultural awareness as these are the attributes they think will enable their learners to thrive in life.

At the same time, six in 10 teachers want to see mental health and wellbeing incorporated into the national curriculum with as much time and emphasis as core subjects.

Social skills – including relationships – is another key theme that more than half of teachers want incorporated. They are also planning to embed mental health and wellbeing across their curriculum by 2024, to ensure all of their students, and particularly those who are most vulnerable, can flourish emotionally and academically.

The conversation doesn’t end here

While there are plenty more insights to digest and understand, what’s clear is that the conversation doesn’t end here. These pieces of research are a step in our collective journey towards trying to create a fully inclusive and tolerant society.

Whether it’s reviewing and diversifying our resources, services and qualifications, or creating guidance and glossaries for schools to support LGBT+ inclusion in the curriculum, we will continue to collaborate with teachers, families, experts and learners to ensure that each and every child feels they belong in education.

Suha Yassin is Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Pearson, the world’s leading digital media learning company. She has wide-ranging experience in education, including the development of qualifications through curriculum reforms in England, and delivering training for teachers and school leaders.