Is homophobia rife on campus? One in five gay students suffer bullying

NUS announces shocking findings of UK LGBT experience survey

LGBT students are subject to sickening bullying and abuse, causing many of them to drop out of uni, says a new report.

The study, commissioned by the NUS, revealed:

• One in five gay students suffer bullying or harassment
• 80% of transgender students don’t feel safe on campus
• Many LGBT students consider dropping out

The report, which was based on interviews and a survey of 4000 respondents, included shocking stories from LGBT students.


A bisexual respondent said they feared being marked down due to their sexuality: “The general attitude on our campus is one [that is] extremely anti-gay or bi and I would not feel comfortable coming out to anyone about my liking for guys as well as women.

“Completely believe that it would affect marking of assignments. Not tolerant at all.”

One straight woman said: “The homophobic comments I have experienced are normally from the assumption that because I am a feminist, I must be a lesbian.”

Trans students who took the survey often faced difficulties with their identity.

One respondent said: “I had a lecturer tell me I needed to ‘conform’ more to be accepted. I had to take on a great deal personally to train members of staff on the appropriate ways of treating trans people.”

Another said: ““I felt invisible, stupid, misgendered, and there was nothing they could do about it, nor was there any staff who fully understood my situation on site.”


Students from Nottingham, UCL, Manchester Met, Bangor and Glasgow were surveyed using focus groups and online questionnaires to give their opinions on a wide range of issues affecting LGBT students.

Previous reports have been fairly limited as unis don’t collect specific data from those identifying as LGBT. Even the NUS has no idea how many LGBT students there are in the UK.

Shockingly the NUS found that one in five LGBT students have experienced harassment or bullying on campus and that those who have experienced homophobic harassment are two to three times more likely to drop out.

It was also revealed that a massive 80% of transsexual students didn’t feel completely safe on their uni campuses compared with over 60% of heterosexual students.

According to Jack, this research “paints a strong picture of what it’s really like to be LGBT in education”

Jack Salter, LGBT officer at the University of Nottingham, supervised part of the survey.

He said: “It was  a real eye-opener being able to take part in this research. It showed us that one in seven students here in Nottingham feel that the LGBT network has actively helped them stay at uni, and a high percentage say we had a positive impact on their time here.”

Freshers fair Sussex University 2012

While significant steps have been made at many unis,  some students said they still felt alienated. One anonymous respondent said:”The general attitude on our campus is extremely anti-gay or bi, and I would not feel comfortable coming out to anyone.”

The surveys also found that current “no-tolerance to discrimination” policies at many institutions were too vague and that some unis didn’t even have them in place.

The NUS recommended putting clear procedures in place to allow LGBT students to quickly and easily report any bullying or harassment they encounter.

Sky Yarlett and Finn McGoldrick, NUS’ LGBT Officers said: “We can no longer ignore the plight of LGBT students. We absolutely need to enforce zero tolerance policies for homophobic and transphobic behaviour, “banter”, and bullying to make sure our campuses are inclusive”

students pink carpet

But, the news is not all bad as the data also showed that “LGBT students tend to be more active in unions and campaigning student societies than their heterosexual peers”  and that unions and LGBT socs are working to create “a safe and friendly space” for LGBT students to socialise.

The report comes as unis around the country celebrated International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17th, promising to tackle homophobia in all areas of university life.