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26 Mar 2009 06:00
Positive images of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual students (LGBT) in university brochures and on websites influence students’ choice of institution, new research by the Equality Challenge Unit has shown.
The unit, founded in 2001, is funded by the higher education sector and the funding councils.
The report is based on an analysis of 4 205 online responses to a survey disseminated to LGBT staff and students in higher education institutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The research finds higher education provides a positive space for many LGBT students, but there is still much discrimination on campus, a factor that contributes to 20% of LGB and 28.5% of trans students suspending their studies.
A fifth of LGB students have taken time out of their course due to problems relating to their sexuality, homophobic discrimination and bullying; 28.5% of trans students take time out because of trans-related issues and transphobic bullying and harassment.
The report is timely as a new Equalities Bill is due that will extend institutions’ duties in relation to sexual orientation.
Higher Education Minister David Lammy said he welcomed the report as it was one of the first of its kind to highlight the experiences of LGBT staff and students. “We expect universities to be tolerant places, promoting open thinking.
“The fact that LGBT students feel they can be themselves in our universities is very positive. But there still needs to be a concerted effort by the sector and institutions to ensure that LGBT staff and students feel welcome and are acknowledged and recognised as an integral part of the higher education community.”—University World News
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