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Fight Hate: LGBTQIA equality at a crossroads

Part of the rainbow flag with the words Fight Hate written.
By Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I’ve been looking at the FRA’s (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights) latest report called LGBTIQ Equality at a crossroads: Progress and Challenges. You can find the whole report here: https://fra.europa.eu/en/news/2024/harassment-and-violence-against-lgbtiq-people-rise

Now, naturally, being in the UK, I’m not part of the EU anymore (don’t get me started) – however, being involved in English Language Teaching means that a lot of the work I do is for students across the globe. Being interested in the experiences of the wider LGBTQIA+ community, I wanted to take a look.

Although there are some encouraging signs in the time between the FRA’s previous report in 2019, and this one, in 2023, one particular graph stood out to me. I haven’t read any further, yet, because I wanted to put this out there as a stark warning – particularly to those teaching English in the EU.

I’m going to post a screenshot of the figure, and then write the percentages for the two years (2019 and 2023) and each country surveyed – countries include the EU countries and North Macedonia and Serbia.

The question asked was ‘During your time in school, have you ever been ridiculed, teased, insulted or threatened because you are LGBTIQ?’ The options included ‘Yes, by my peers.’, ‘Yes, by my teachers or other school staff.’ and ‘No, never.’ Including the two countries plus the EU 27, this amounted to 50,438 respondents. I’m not sure of the ages of respondents, but it looks likely that this may be historical, i.e. those that have already left school – but I may be wrong. Either way, it’s still unacceptable.

Here is a text breakdown of the graph – all numbers apart from years are percentages:

EU-27 (I imagine this is an average) 2019: 46, 2023: 67
Ireland 2019: 50, 2023: 76
Portugal 2019: 47, 2023: 74
Austria 2019: 44, 2023: 73
Cyprus 2019: 52, 2023: 73
Bulgaria 2019: 51, 2023: 72
Lithuania 2019: 47, 2023: 72
France 2019: 44, 2023: 71
Croatia 2019: 51, 2023: 71
Greece 2019: 55, 2023: 70
Germany 2019: 48, 2023: 70
Hungary 2019: 44, 2023: 69
Romania 2019: 46, 2023: 69
Italy 2019: 44, 2023: 68
Luxembourg 2019: 48, 2023: 68
Latvia 2019: 40, 2023: 67
Belgium 2019: 50, 2023: 67
Spain 2019: 49, 2023: 66
Estonia 2019: 38, 2023: 65
Netherlands 2019: 44, 2023: 65
Finland 2019: 38, 2023: 60
Denmark 2019: 32, 2023: 60
Poland 2019: 39, 2023: 60
Slovakia 2019: 40, 2023: 60
Malta 2019: 38, 2023: 59
Sweden 2019: 36, 2023: 58
Slovenia 2019: 37, 2023: 56
Czechia 2019: 33, 2023: 52
North Macedonia 2019: 51, 2023: 68
Serbia 2019: 54, 2023: 67

The report goes on to say that the following groups of people experienced bullying at higher rates:
– gay (79%)
– intersex (76%)
– trans men (76%)
– non-binary and gender diverse (73%)
– pansexual (66%)

Without fail, in every single country in the EU, ridicule, teasing, insulting and threats have increased in school.

We are failing our LGBTQIA+ youth.

To have Ireland, the UK’s closest neighbour being top of the list, with just over three quarters of LGBTQIA+ youth experiencing abuse in a supposedly safe space is disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, I know the UK is a cesspit of hate at the moment, particularly for trans, non-binary and intersex people.

The report looks at many other aspects of the LGBTQIA+ experience, and there’s one more I want to highlight; Online hate.
The report looks at ‘common statements’ seen on social media, and the percentage of respondents who see them ‘always’ or ‘often’:

  1. References to LGBTQI ‘propaganda’ or ‘gender ideology’: 76% always/often
  2. References to LGBTIQ people posing a threat to ‘traditional values’: 76% always/often
  3. Considering LGBTIQ people to be ‘unnatural’ or mentally ill: 64% always/often
  4. References to LGBTIQ people posing a sexual threat (e.g. in context of changing rooms/toilets): 52% always/often
  5. Calls for violence against LGBTIQ people: 38% always/often

This report is an ugly reminder to cis and non-LGBTQIA+ people of the threats that the LGBTQIA+ community face on a daily basis. It is unacceptable.

Education is the way forward. One way is to be more representative and inclusive in our materials. For one way of doing that, have a look at my Existence publication – here: https://peterjfullagar.co.uk/eltshop/existence-physical-product/

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