New independent research from Just Like Us has found that LGBTQ+ adults are half as likely to have “fond memories” of their time at school, and 36% were bullied. 

More than a fifth (22%) of LGBTQ+ adults agreed with the following statement: “I do not have fond memories of school, I have blocked it out of my memory”. For non-LGBTQ+ adults, this was the case for only 12%. 

The research, which surveyed more than 3,000 UK adults, found that more than a third (36%) of LGBTQ+ adults were bullied at school, compared to 17% of their non-LGBTQ+ peers. 

Anti-LGBTQ+ bullying may be on the rise, as Just Like Us’ recent ‘Growing up LGBT+’ report found that 42% of LGBTQ+ pupils are bullied today in school. This is almost double the percentage of non-LGBTQ+ students (21%). 

LGBTQ+ adults are also more than twice as likely to have experienced feelings of loneliness of school, with a quarter (25%) saying they had very few/no friends. They described it as a “very lonely time”, compared to just 11% of non-LGBTQ+ respondents.

More than half of LGBTQ+ adults (55%) said they had no role models to look up to during their school years. 

The data comes as Just Like Us prepares to launch this year’s Ambassador Programme, which trains young LGBTQ+ people to speak about their experiences and bring positive LGBTQ+ representation into secondary schools. 

The LGBTQ+ youth charity is currently encouraging LGBTQ+ people aged 18-25 and living in the UK to apply for the scheme. 

Highlighting the stark difference in school experiences between LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ people, the study discovered that nearly three quarters (72%) of non-LGBTQ+ students enjoyed their time at school, while this statement only applies to 58% of LGBTQ+ respondents. 

Nearly one in five (19%) of LGBTQ+ adults said they tried to do everything they could to get out of going to school. This was the case for only one in 10 (10%) of non-LGBTQ+ adults. 

A further 12% of LGBTQ+ adults said they had a “terrible relationship” with their teachers, more than double that of non-LGBTQ+ people (5%). 

Dominic Arnall, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, says: “It’s devastating that so many LGBT+ people had such an awful experience at school that they’ve had to block it from their memory. The fact that our young people are still having this experience in 2022 is outrageous. 

“Sadly things haven’t really changed as much as we might like to think, as LGBT+ school pupils are still twice as likely to be bullied, struggle with mental health and are much more likely to feel unsafe in school. 

“LGBT+ representation is desperately needed in schools, which is why we’re asking LGBT+ 18 to 25 year olds to come forward and volunteer with us. 

“We’ll train you to become an ambassador and speak in schools, and you will be helping to bring that much-needed visibility to struggling LGBT+ pupils. Please sign up to volunteer with Just Like Us so that the future can look brighter for LGBT+ young people.”

The new research was carried out between July and August 2022 and surveyed 3,076 UK adults aged 18-65 – 1,001 were LGBTQ+ and 2,975 were non-LGBTQ+.

LGBTQ+ people aged 18-25 and living in the UK can sign up now to Just Like Us’ Ambassadors programme here: Volunteer – Just Like Us.

Training starts this autumn in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and online.