Taking the temperature: Developing and piloting an LGBT-positive school climate evaluation tool for post-primary schools in Ireland

According to recent reports, 52% of young Irish LGBTI people ‘face abuse at school’. A collaboration between Dr Debbie Ging from the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre in DCU and Sandra Irwin-Gowran from the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), funded by an Irish Research Council New Foundations award, aims to develop and pilot an LGBT-positive school climate evaluation tool for post-primary schools in Ireland

The research will produce a standard, practical and expert-designed evaluation tool that Irish schools can use to gain a deeper understanding of their LGBT climate.

According to Dr Ging, 'The literature on LGBT inclusivity stresses that policies and procedures alone are not sufficient in guaranteeing a safe, supportive and affirming school environment. Rather, a visible and proactive culture of welcome, support and affirmation needs to be promoted and nurtured on a whole-school basis'.

Echoing this need for positive school cultures, Sandra Irwin-Gowran, Director of Education Policy with GLEN, says, 'We know that schools can be very difficult places for LGBTI young people, just 20% feel that they completely belong in their school. Many schools are doing great work at trying to change that by sending welcoming and inclusive messages to their student body. The tool that this research project is developing will help those schools to see if what they are doing is having a positive impact for LGBTI young people and will highlight areas that they need to do further work on. It is going to be a really valuable tool for schools and GLEN is delighted to partner with DCU in developing it.'

If widely adopted, this tool has the potential to place Ireland among the most progressive countries worldwide in actively embedding an ethos of LGBT safety and inclusivity in its post-primary education system.