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26 September 2017, 08:54
Almost half of lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) young people in Scotland are bullied at school, a new report suggests.
Stonewall Scotland research found that 48% of the 402 LGBT young people who took part were bullied for their sexuality in 2017, a slight drop from 52% in 2012.
More than three in five (63%) LGBT young people aged between 11-19 frequently or often heard homophobic language in school with 91% regularly hearing phrases such as "that's so gay".
Only around a third (32%) said teachers intervened to stop bullying if they were present, with two in five pupils (41%) not taught anything about LGBT issues in school or college.
The proportion of those bullied soared among trans young people with 71% reporting bullying, and 65% saying they were unable to use the toilets they feel comfortable in at school.
The survey found that nearly all (96%) of trans respondents had deliberately harmed themselves, while 43% had attempted to take their own life.
More than half (58%) of lesbian, gay and bi young people had self-harmed while around a quarter had attempted suicide.
Stonewall Scotland noted that schools were more likely to say homophobic bullying was wrong since 2012, and young people were more likely to have been taught about LGBT issues at school.
However it highlighted that young people in Scotland were also more likely to hear homophobic slurs than those in the rest of Britain (63% compared to 50%).
Director Colin Macfarlane said the findings should act as a "wake-up call" for schools, local authorities, government and politicians "to ensure that all schools are equipped to support LGBT young people, and that teachers understand their needs".
He said: "Our school years are one of the most formative periods of our lives, and we owe it to young LGBT people to ensure that they don't face discrimination or bullying because of who they are, but are supported to flourish and achieve.
"While our new school report shows some modest improvements for LGBT pupils it quite clearly demonstrates how far we still have to go.
"Half of LGBT young people in Scotland are still bullied for who they are, affecting their well-being and their education. Worryingly, the majority of trans young people experience bullying, exclusion and poor mental health. They must not be left behind."
Fergus McMillan, chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland added: "Stonewall Scotland's research aligns with our own experience, in face-to-face and online youth work, that while a number of schools have taken proactive and bold steps in recent years, we still have a long way to go to improve the education experience for LGBTI young people in Scotland."
The survey was carried out online by the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge between November 2016 and February 2017.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Bullying of any kind is unacceptable and must be addressed quickly, whenever it arises - and while this fall in cases is welcome, we must remain vigilant.
"We remain committed to helping our children and young people build positive relationships as they grow older and will carefully consider this report and its recommendations from Stonewall Scotland.
"Relationships, sexual health and parenthood education is an integral part of the health and well-being curriculum and it is for local authorities and schools to decide how best to deliver the curriculum based on local needs. As well as working with the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) Campaign to improve the inclusive approach to sex and relationships education, we are also undertaking a national review of personal and social education."