Today (Wednesday 12th October) The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend launch their report on education in Northern Ireland .
The report, Left out of the Equation, highlights the severe inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) young people in school. The report looks at bullying, the Northern Ireland curriculum, the role of teachers and the education structures of Northern Ireland.
The Rainbow Project’s Education Equality Officer, Gavin Boyd said: ‘This report shows that when it comes to education, young people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual are left out of the equation. They get severely bullied but frequently don’t tell anyone because they don’t believe their school will do anything about it. They hear homophobic slurs every day but teachers don’t intervene. They aren’t taught that they can have stable and fulfilling relationships. They aren’t taught how to gauge risk and protect themselves from mental and sexual ill-health. They are simply expected to suffer in silence.
The education structures of Northern Ireland ensure that Boards of Governors can neglect their legal obligations due to the lack of enforcement and accountability mechanisms. Boards of Governors are failing to safeguard and promote the welfare of their LGB pupils, contrary to their legal obligations’.
He continued ‘Research carried out by The Rainbow Project has found that when the Equality Commission was advised by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) to extend equality provisions to schools in 2006, the Equality Commission rejected the findings of the NFER report, which they had sponsored. The Equality Commission must justify why they made this decision.
Research has also revealed that senior civil servants in the Department of Education were completely opposed to the designation of schools as section 75 compliant bodies and sought to ensure that the Equality Commission would not adopt the proposals of the NFER. It is unclear as to whether the position to oppose designating schools under Section 75 was adopted by then Direct Rule Ministers, but if this was not the case then serious questions must be asked about such major decisions being taken by Civil Servants and not elected representatives’.
He concluded ‘It is an accepted truth in Northern Ireland that public bodies must promote equality of opportunity for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation and it is only right and proper that schools should be held to the same standard. The decision of the Equality Commission has negatively impacted on the ability of LGB young people to access their right to education in a safe and welcoming environment.’
For information regarding the report Left Out Of The Equation please contact:
The report Left out of the Equation will be launched on Wednesday 12 October at 3.15 pm in the VIP Suite, Waterfront Hall. All media are invited.
The key findings of the report Left out of the Equation are:
- Homophobic language and bullying are prevalent in schools across Northern Ireland with 98% of LGB young people reporting hearing homophobic language in school from pupils, teachers, non-teaching staff and visitors to schools.
- 72% of survey respondents reported that when teachers heard homophobic language, they ignored it.
- 94% of survey respondents reported that they were taught nothing in sexual health education which was relevant to them as an LGB person.
The full report ‘Left Out of the Equation’ can be viewed at http://www.rainbow-project.org/assets/publications/left%20out%20of%20the%20equation.pdf