A comprehensive school approach has been proven to be the most effective to prevent and address homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and interphobic bullying. The list of ten comparable indicators used in this research was, therefore, created based on the different elements of this approach. Below, the ten indicators are outlined, followed by their degree of implementation in Member States.
Some governments have already taken significant steps to ensure education is inclusive of all learners. In particular, 33 countries have implemented anti-discrimination laws or action plans. Other practices, however, still remain challenging in most countries. Overall, the main areas for improvement are compulsory education curricula, mandatory teacher training and data collection on bullying and harassment on grounds of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or variation in sex characteristics.
Finally, there are only four countries (Malta, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) that provide most of these measures across Europe as of yet. Some regions in Spain have also developed inclusive laws and policies, but they have not been implemented nationally. By contrast, eleven countries have failed to implement any measure at the time of writing this report (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Latvia, Macedonia, Monaco, Poland, Russia, San Marino, Turkey and Ukraine).
Anti-discrimination law applicable to education
A legal framework is necessary to ensure effective enjoyment of the right of education. All states should guarantee the right to education to all by explicitly tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or variations in sex characteristics. Civil society organisations report that 33 countries have developed anti-discrimination laws that are applicable to education and protect at least one of these grounds. However, 5 countries have anti-propaganda laws that make it impossible for learners to receive inclusive content in schools.
Policies and action plans
National or regional policies to promote a safe and inclusive environment for all learners are crucial for outlining the necessary processes and actions that schools should follow to tackle homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and interphobia, and provide teachers and other school staff with the framework to prevent and address discrimination with confidence and support. Civil society organisations report that 19 Member States have developed national or regional action plans to prevent and address discrimination in, at least, one of the mentioned grounds.
Inclusive national curricula
General invisibility and lack of positive representations of LGBTQI people in schools have negative con sequences for all students. The affirming inclusion of LGBTQI identities and realities across curricula and learning materials ensures that teachers have many opportunities to discuss diversity. Ensuring that curricula and learning materials convey positive messages and avoid negative representations or stereotypes of LGBTQI people in specific subjects is also necessary. While there is evidence in 27 Member States of voluntary or arbitrary inclusion of LGBTQI issues, they have only been embedded through out the full curriculum or, at least, been compulsory for all students in 12 Member States.
Teacher training on LGBTQI awareness
Teachers play a vital role in creating a safe atmosphere for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or variations in sex characteristics. Many teachers, however, still report that they lack the confidence and knowledge to discuss LGBTQI issues or support learners who are LGBTQI. A national or regional training programme for teachers and other school staff on LGBTQI awareness and inclusion is essential to translate policies into reality. Although civil society organisations report that more than 24 countries have provided some training, only 2 Member States have introduced mandatory teacher training.
In order to meet the needs of trans, non-binary, gender variant, and intersex students, all learners should have the right to have their own name and gender marker recognised. That decision should be support ed by the whole school with all documents and certificates using the chosen name and gender and the learner being able to use the gendered spaces of their choice. Self-determined legal gender recognition for LGBTQI young people under 16 has only been reported in 4 Member States.
National or regional data collection on bullying and harassment
Monitoring the nature, prevalence and impact of violence at school is necessary to plan effective interventions to tackle homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and interphobic bullying. Bullying based on learners’ (perceived or actual) sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or variations in sex characteristics must be recorded as such to build up an accurate record of the issue within each school. Although several countries have evidence of data collection, civil society organisations report that only 4 Member States are either systematically collecting data directly through governments, a fund ed institution, or NGOs that received government funding to work on inclusive education.
Support systems for young people
Teachers and school staff are responsible for the health and wellbeing of all learners. At times, LGBTQI students may require additional support and guidance, so school staff should be trained and equipped to deal with any requests. Links to relevant LGBTQI youth services and groups should also be established for signposting and referrals. Furthermore, specific support for everyone affected by homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and interphobic violence should be provided. Civil society organisations report that 12 Member States provide services or have funded projects that provide support.
Information and guidelines
Learners should have access to information and guidance regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and variations in sex characteristics. Information should be provided in different for mats, and posters and leaflets should be on display in both public and more private areas of the school, with relevant websites accessible from all school computers. This is also helpful for creating an environ ment that encourages greater understanding and respect from all learners. Civil society organisations report that 16 Member States directly provide guidance or fund projects that offer such information.
School environment and inclusion
A safe and supportive school environment is vital for the development as well as the physical and mental well-being of LGBTQI youth. This indicator draws attention to heavily hostile environments where LGBTQI students have been excluded from extracurricular activities based on their actual or perceived SOGIGESC or where the establishment of LGBTQI student groups has been prohibited. It should be noted that not all countries have a culture of extracurricular activities and school clubs. Civil society organisations report that 5 Member States prohibit extracurricular activities that address LGBTQI issues, while only 12 provide comprehensive resources to implement those activities.
Homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and interphobic bullying remains a global issue and requires attention beyond local and national levels if it is to be eradicated. International commitment to the issue from Member States shows political leadership to other countries and highlights the importance of cooperation. Membership of the European Governmental LGBTI Focal Points Network (28 Council of Europe Member States as well as Kosovo) and the signing of the UNESCO Call for Action by Ministers on inclusive and equitable education for all learners in an environment free from discrimination and violence (signed by 29 countries), both highlight such commitment on LGBTQI inclusive education.