As reported by Fréttablaðið this morning, the results of a survey that was meant to be presented today by the Gender Equality Committee of the University of Iceland’s School of Education revealed that a third of young queer people feel insecure at school. The lecturer, however, is in quarantine, and was therefore unable to give the presentation.
The lecturer in question Tótla I. Sæmundsdóttir – educational director of Samtökin ‘78, the National Queer Organisation of Iceland – said, “I spend most days inside schools talking to queer kids and you still hear incredible stories.” These include verbal and physical attacks, as well as prejudiced comments from school staff themselves.
The survey showed that 33% of queer students were made to feel insecure at school expressly because of their sexual orientation, 5% had been attacked within school, 28% had experienced prejudice from staff, and 32% had been verbally harassed. The participants of this survey were young queer people aged thirteen and over.
Tótla emphasised the importance of support from school staff, reminding teachers that as soon as young people feel adults will intervene in homophobic behaviour, they feel better; they feel that they belong to the school community, and absences decrease. According to Tótla, it is just as important to educate teachers as it is to educate students.
“The fact that I come in for maybe an hour a semester has an effect,” she said, “But having active school staff who deal with these issues is the most important thing.”
Tótla’s lecture will be livestreamed on the School of Education’s website.
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