Research comissioned by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) suggests that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) learners are being treated better than they were before in Further Education.
The report, titled Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Equality in Adult Learning, concludes that most students have a positive experience in adult learning and feel welcomed by their college or provider.
Geoff Russell, chief executive of the Skills Funding Agency, said: “Results from this research confirm that as well as clear moral and legal cases for banishing discrimination, those providers that understand equality and take concerted action to ensure their learning environment is fair, will see gains in the future.
“A welcoming environment is favoured and deemed more attractive to learners who may previously have left an institution due to discrimination.”
Less than one in six lesbian, gay and bisexual learners said that they had experienced harassment in further education due to their sexual orientation.
Only a third of participants believe that equality policies exist in their learning environment.
Other results showed that 30% of transgender learners had experienced bullying due to their gender identity.
Joy Mercer from the Association of Colleges (AoC) said: ”We are pleased to note that feedback highlights a positive attitude and developing awareness of the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
“However, this report also identifies the further work needed and will help managers to enhance their policies, practice, curriculum and continuous professional development in the future.”
The research highlights that only a third of participants believe that equality policies exist in their learning environment.
It later suggests that providers should emphasise how they do not tolerate bullying or harassment, and to highlight the mechanisms which learners can use to report any problems.
Other recommendations include setting up a mentoring system so that LGBT learners can ‘take an active role in the learning environment’.
The research was carried out by Babcock and surveyed 450 appropriate learners that were over 19.
Previous reseach commissioned in 2006 discovered that the experience of adult learners in these groups was characterised by widespread discrimination and harassment.