Creating Safe Schools and Support for LGBT Students

Leave No Student Behind: Creating Safe Schools and Support for LGBT Students


This briefing paper illustrates how Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, is relevant to all students irrespective of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). The paper highlights existing data and data gaps pertinent to the experiences of LGBTI students at all levels of education, as well as vocational and technical training, across four targets within this Goal. The paper makes a series of recommendations regarding what type of data United Nations Member States (Member States) can collect and the initiatives they can implement in order to effectively monitor progress on LGBTI student access to education, and ensure that efforts to achieve SDG 4 are truly universal and follow the Agenda 2030 principle of “leave no one behind.”

Data regarding LGBTI people in education settings are inadequate and incomplete across the globe, but the data that are available indicate that LGBTI students or those perceived to be LGBTI at all education levels face higher rates of violence and discrimination, primarily through bullying, and have associated lower attendance, participation, and proficiency rates compared to their non-LGBTI peers. While students who are or who are perceived to be LGBTI share common experiences of marginalization based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), many also face intersecting forms of discrimination in educational settings based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, ability, class, socioeconomic status, migration status, and other factors that drive exclusion.

Safely collecting accurate and complete data disaggregated by SOGIESC where appropriate will allow for the formation of evidence-based laws and policies that serve to promote and protect LGBTI people’s right to education. Evidence currently available suggests that Member States can implement comprehensive education sector polices, such as SOGIESC-focused teacher training and inclusive curricula development, to combat discrimination and support LGBTI students. Furthermore, improving the educational opportunities and outcomes of LGBTI people must be grounded in human rights approaches. Laws, policies, and practices that directly or indirectly criminalize consensual same-sex behavior and self-determination of gender identity must be repealed to eliminate barriers to the right to education.

Civil society, UN agencies, and Member States must work together to ensure safe, accurate and comprehensive reporting on the experiences of LGBTI students and their educational outcomes in development programming. This is necessary to fulfill State obligations to the principle of “leave no one behind” in Agenda 2030.