LGBT+ people twice as likely to face bullying in school and rates may be worsening

by Just Like Us
August 2022

LGBT+ adults

LGBT+ adults are twice as likely to have been bullied in school and avoided going – and anti-LGBT+ bullying rates are worse today – new independent research by Just Like Us reveals.

More than a third (36%) of LGBT+ adults were bullied at school, compared to 17% of their non-LGBT+ peers, the independent survey of more than 3,000 UK adults found.

In addition, Just Like Us’ recent Growing up LGBT+ report found that today 42% of LGBT+ school pupils have been bullied – also double the rate of their non-LGBT+ peers.

LGBT+ adults are also twice as likely to have had such an awful time at school that they avoided going and block it from their memory, the new survey has found.

LGBT+ people are also half as likely to have fond memories of their time at school.

More than one in five (22%) of LGBT+ adults agreed with the statement: “I do not have fond memories of school, I have blocked it out of my memory”. This was the case for only 12% of their non-LGBT+ peers.

Anti-LGBT+ bullying in school could be on the rise

The research suggests that anti-LGBT+ bullying may be on the rise. Just Like Us’ recent Growing up LGBT+ report found 42% of LGBT+ school pupils are bullied today (compared to 21% of non-LGBT+ pupils).

Secondary school students in a corridor

LGBT+ people are more likely to be lonely in school

LGBT+ adults are also more than twice as likely to have felt lonely at school, the new survey found. A quarter of LGBT+ adults (25%) said they had very few/no friends at school, describing it as a “very lonely time”. This is compared to just 11% of non-LGBT+ respondents.

Alarmingly, more than half of LGBT+ adults surveyed (55%) did not feel like they had a role model at school.

The latest data comes as Just Like Us prepares to launch this year’s Ambassador Programme. The programme trains LGBT+ volunteers to speak about their experiences and bring positive LGBT+ representation into secondary schools.

The charity is encouraging LGBT+ people aged 18-25 to sign up.

New research highlights stark differences in school experiences

The independent study commissioned by Just Like Us highlights the stark difference in school experiences between LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ people. While nearly three quarters of non-LGBT+ people (72%) said they enjoyed their time at school, this statement applied to only 58% of LGBT+ respondents. 

The research also revealed that LGBT+ respondents were also nearly twice as likely to do everything they could to avoid going to school. Nearly one in five LGBT+ adults (19%) said they avoided going to school, compared with 10% of non-LGBT+ people.

A further 12% of LGBT+ adults said they had a “terrible relationship” with their teachers. This was more than double that of non-LGBT+ people (5%).

Anti-LGBT+ bullying in school

Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, says: “It’s devastating that so many LGBT+ people had such an awful experience at school that they’ve had to block it from their memory. The fact that our young people are still having this experience in 2022 is outrageous. 

“Sadly things haven’t really changed as much as we might like to think. LGBT+ school pupils are still twice as likely to be bullied, struggle with mental health and are much more likely to feel unsafe in school.

“LGBT+ representation is desperately needed in schools. That’s why we’re asking LGBT+ 18 to 25 year olds to come forward and volunteer with us. We’ll train you to become an ambassador and speak in schools. You will be helping to bring that much-needed visibility to struggling LGBT+ pupils. Please sign up to volunteer with Just Like Us so that the future can look brighter for LGBT+ young people.”

The new research comprises an online survey of 3,076 UK adults – 1,001 were LGBT+ and 2,075 were non-LGBT+ – aged 18 to 65+, carried out between July and August 2022.

It supports Just Like Us’ previous Growing up LGBT+ report, which found that 42% of current LGBT+ school pupils reported being bullied – double the number of non-LGBT pupils (21%). The report also found that 91% of today’s LGBT+ school pupils have heard negative language about being LGBT+.

How you can help

If you are LGBT+ and age 18-25, please sign up now to Just Like Us’ Ambassador Programme – you will be trained to speak in schools and help stop anti-LGBT+ bullying.

Training starts this autumn in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and online.

LGBT volunteering opportunities with Just Like Us
LGBT volunteering opportunities with Just Like Us

If you work in a school, please sign up to learn more about ways you can help.

You can also support our work to stop anti-LGBT+ bullying by making a donation.