LGBT+ Parents report finds many schools are failing to be inclusive

by Just Like Us
June 2024

LGBT+ Parents report cover

LGBT+ Parents, a new report published by Just Like Us, has found that many schools and nurseries still do not talk openly about diverse families resulting in social stigma, discrimination and poor wellbeing.

The new research by Just Like Us – the LGBT+ young people’s charity – independently surveyed 1,012 LGBT+ parents across the UK, and also interviewed families about their experiences.

The LGBT+ Parents report provides 10 recommendations for nurseries and schools on how they can be more inclusive to children from LGBT+ families.

LGBT+ Parents report: Key findings

  1. Negative comments about LGBT+ families are common: More than half (56%) of lesbian and gay parents face negative comments about their families. 42% of their children have experienced remarks about having LGBT+ parents
  2. More open conversations are needed in schools: Only one in five (19%) LGBT+ parents say their child’s school openly discusses LGBT+ families with pupils
  3. Anti-trans rhetoric has spread to some school communities: A third (30%) of transgender parents have heard negative comments about trans people at school
  4. Lesbians mums face invasive questions: 39% of lesbian mums have been asked invasive questions such as ‘strangers asking about their child’s sperm donor’
  5. School bullying is a huge worry for LGBT+ parents: Half of lesbian and gay parents (48%) worry their child will be bullied because they have LGBT+ parents
  6. Heterosexual, nuclear families are often still seen as the default: A third (35%) of all LGBT+ parents say their school refers to families as “mums and dads” by default

Bullying towards children from LGBT+ families

Half of lesbian and gay parents are worried their child will be ‘bullied because they have LGBT+ parents’ and ‘not be accepted’ (48% and 52% respectively). A third (29%) of bisexual parents also report worrying their child will not be accepted because they are part of a LGBT+ family.

A quarter (23%) of lesbian and gay parents say their children have felt ‘upset or hurt by negative comments at school about LGBT+ people’. In addition, a quarter (24%) say their children have been ‘left out of social arrangements seemingly because they are from a LGBT+ family’.

A third (30%) of transgender parents have heard negative comments about trans people at school. One in 10 trans parents (11%) have decided to homeschool their children ‘to avoid anti-LGBT+ prejudice’.

‘Let down’ by a lack of school inclusion

LGBT+ parents report a widespread lack of inclusion in schools across the UK. 15% say they have been treated differently by their child’s school because of their LGBT+ identity. This increases to one in five lesbian (21%), gay (22%) and trans (18%) parents.

A third (35%) of all LGBT+ parents say their school refers to families as “mums and dads” as the default.

One in 10 LGBT+ parents (10%) report feeling ‘let down by my child’s school not being LGBT+ inclusive’. They generally feel more let by primary schools not being inclusive.

Only one in five (19%) say their school would ‘openly discuss LGBT+ families with pupils’ and just 11% have been asked ‘what your child prefers to call you (e.g. “mummy” and “muma”, etc)’.

Only 12% of LGBT+ parents say their school has LGBT+ inclusive books for pupils to read. A quarter (23%) say their child’s school celebrates School Diversity Week.

One in five trans parents (20%) report school forms only having ‘male’ and ‘female’ on registration forms.

Overall, four in 10 (41%) LGBT+ parents have experienced negative comments about their family.

Social stigma in school communities

In addition, four in 10 (41%) of trans parents and a third (27%) of lesbian and gay parents have been ‘left out of parent social arrangements seemingly because I am LGBT+’.

A quarter (25%) of lesbian mums and gay dads ‘feel isolated as a LGBT+ parent’ and a third (34%) of trans parents feel the same. In addition, a quarter of lesbian, gay and trans parents feel ‘depressed or anxious about my LGBT+ family not fitting in or not being treated fairly’.

“Some of the findings are harrowing”

Amy Ashenden, Director of Comms and Engagement at Just Like Us, said: “As a LGBT+ parent, compiling this report has been far from reassuring. Some of the findings are harrowing. There is clearly so much work to be done to help schools and nurseries understand the huge impact that an inclusive – or unaccepting – school environment can have on LGBT+ families.”

Laura Mackay, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, said: “Every parent wants to send their child to school in the morning and feel reassured that they will be safe, happy and ready to learn. But many LGBT+ parents are instead feeling worried, isolated and unsure whether they or their children will face hurtful and invasive comments, unfair treatment and outright discrimination simply because their family isn’t heterosexual or cisgender. 

“At Just Like Us, we endeavour to make embedding LGBT+ inclusion simple. We are so happy to be supporting more than 7,000 primary and secondary schools across the UK who are taking part in School Diversity Week this year, and we invite all teachers to sign up for our free educational resources so they can celebrate too.”

Recommendations for nurseries and schools

The report contains 10 recommendations for nurseries, primary and secondary schools as well as colleges.