33 SES 09 A, Violence Against the LGBTQ+ Community and Violent Models of Relationship
This paper addresses issues of gender and education. It specifically focuses on informing about the violence that LGBTQI+ community experiences in higher education in the north-east region of Spain (Catalonia) and suggests measures to improve this reality.
Presently, the violence and discrimination towards the LGBTQI+ community is still a reality that persists worldwide. For example, according to the largest survey of LGBT people involving 28 European countries, approximately a 26% of the more than 93000 LGBT participants were attacked or threatened with violence between 2008 and 2013 (FRA, 2014). As evidenced, the educational system is not immune to this reality. For instance, almost 99% of the students from United Kingdom admitted having heard homophobic insults and remarks at least once in their schools and 55% of LGBT students suffered bullying along their school years (Guasp, Statham, Jadva & Daly, 2012). This situation is highly worrying as bullying on the grounds on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression can affect negatively LGBTIQ students’ physical (Woodford, Howell, Kulick, & Silverschanz, 2013) and psychological health and well-being (D’Augelli, 1992).
This social problem shows a strong presence in the Spanish context, being Catalonia the autonomous community where more incidents have been registered in relation to this type of hate crime (Ministerio del Interior, 2019). Although in recent years researchers have started to pay attention to violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, it is still a particularly silenced reality in contexts such as higher education. Based on this situation, the Uni4Freedom research project aims to improve the quality of life of LGBTQI+ undergraduate students, breaking the silence that exists on the violence towards this group. Based on an interdisciplinary approach, it aims to provide guidelines for the development of non-discrimination protocols in Catalan higher education institutions and contribute to the implementation of the Law 11/2014, of October 10th, of the Government of Catalonia to guarantee the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, and intersexual.
The aim of the research here presented, Uni4Freedom, has been the improvement of the quality of life of the LGBTQI+ university students by breaking the silence on the violence suffered by this group. Besides learning more about the state of the art, other objectives of this research have been to 1) Identify the violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression at the university level, 2) Contribute with orientations to develop non-discrimination protocols at the university based on scientific evidence and the law and, 3) Raise awareness among social agents and policy makers by contributing with evidence that may improve their actions and decisions.
This research started from two main hypotheses: 1) violence due to identity orientation, gender identity or expression is a reality that is present in Catalan universities and it is manifested in different ways and 2) there are measures that are being implemented against this violence in the university context at the international level. The research methodology used has been the Communicative Methodology (MC). This is a methodological perspective that has been underlined by the European Commission as the most useful to identify successful actions that are contributing to overcome situations of inequality (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, 2010; Flecha & Soler, 2014). This paradigm of research implies the establishment of an egalitarian dialogue between researchers and end-users along the different phases of the research. The research team involves researchers of 6 public and private Catalan universities, and it is monitored from the early stages of the research until the end by an advisory committee composed by members of LGBTQI+ associations and social movements. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected for this research. The data collection involved diverse techniques. We collected quantitative data through a questionnaire to students (469) on the presence and scope of LGBTQI+ violence at the university and the level of institutional response from public and private universities. Secondly, 12 individual daily life stories with LGBTQI+ students in Catalan universities were conducted on the same topic. Finally, semi-structured interviews with 12 professors and 6 persons responsible of equality offices at Catalan universities were conducted. Thus, the sample of this research includes different social actors linked to higher education: students, professors, policymakers, and administrative staff, making a total of 30 informants. The qualitative data analysis has been carried out following the guidelines of the MC, which focuses on social transformation and thus distinguishes between analysing the ‘transformative’ dimension (those elements that contribute to transform a given reality) and the ‘exclusionary’ dimension (those elements that perpetuate a condition of inequality or/and hindrance of transformation) (Pulido, Elboj, Campdepadrós & Cabré, 2014). This methodology has been widely used in previous research on gender violence and sexual harassment in universities (Puigvert, Valls, Garcia, Aguilar & Merrill, 2017; Valls, Puigvert, Melgar & García-Yeste, 2016). The analysis of the quantitative data was performed using the SPSS® software. The Uni4Freedom research project is in the line with the ethical recommendations regarding responsible research of the European Commission of ensuring respectful and ethical concerning contact with vulnerable population (European Science, 2017).
The findings corroborate the presence of violence and discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community at Catalan universities. Quantitative findings demonstrate that 25,5% of university members know a case of LGBTQI-phobic violence. At the same time, the normalization of the violence and lack of competences to detect it is evident. The results show that up to 61% of students have suffered or known a form of violence on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Some statements provided by students in the qualitative fieldwork are highly discriminatory and pathologizing such as “you have an illness, you should go to the psychiatrist” or “gay people are like crippled”. Data analysis and findings also indicate the persisting need to attend the needs of LGBTQI+ community in education by implementing the law for the eradication of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in educational institutions (Catalan Law 11/2014). Training university staff and faculty at the university to see, recognize and act on discriminatory situations is a key issue in the struggle against violence against the LGBTQI+ community. Furthermore, it has been shown that a preventive perspective is essential. Concerning the findings from the policy analysis conducted on different strategies addressed to LGBTQI+ students, a set of relevant actions have been selected. One of the most concurrent actions refers to the positive impact to train allied students that protect LGBTQI+ students in the different campus’ spaces such as sport facilities, cultural activities, classes, etc. Other strategies are connected with the provision of health services to LGBTQI+ students and legal recognition of names of non-binary or binary transgender students. The current dissemination of these results is contributing to the transformation of Catalan universities to more equal and respectful institutions for all, and provides important insights that will contribute to improve other university institutions throughout Europe.
D’Augelli, A. R. (1992). Lesbian and Gay Male Undergraduates’ Experiences of Harassment and Fear on Campus. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7(3), 383–395. European Science, F. (2017). The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. Berlin: ALLEA - All European Academies. Retrieved from www.allea.org Flecha, R., & Soler, M. (2014). Communicative methodology: Successful actions and dialogic democracy. Current sociology, 62(2), 232-242. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0011392113515141 FRA-European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2014). EU LGBT survey: Main results. https://doi.org/10.2811/37969 Guasp, A., Statham, H., Jadva, V., & Daly, I. (2012). The School Report: The experiences of gay young people in Britain's schools in 2012. Stonewall. Ministerio del Interior. (2019). Informe sobre la evolución de los incidentes relacionados con los delitos de odio en España. Retrieved from http://www.interior.gob.es/documents/642012/3479677/Informe+sobre+la+evoluci%C3%B3n+de+delitos+de+odio+en+Espa%C3%B1a%2C%20a%C3%B1o+2019/344089ef-15e6-4a7b-8925-f2b64c117a0a Puigvert, L., Valls, R., Garcia Yeste, C., Aguilar, C., & Merrill, B. (2017). Resistance to and Transformations of Gender-Based Violence in Spanish Universities: A Communicative Evaluation of Social Impact. Journal of Mixed Methods Research. doi: 10.1177/1558689817731170 Pulido, C., Elboj, C., Campdepadrós, R., & Cabré, J. (2014). Exclusionary and Transformative Dimensions Communicative Analysis Enhancing Solidarity Among Women to Overcome Gender Violence. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(7), 889–894. doi: 10.1177/1077800414537212 Valls, R., Puigvert, L., Melgar, P., & Garcia-Yeste, C. (2016). Breaking the silence at Spanish universities: findings from the first study of violence against women on campuses in Spain. Violence against women, 22(13), 1519-1539. Woodford, M. R., Howell, M. L., Kulick, A., & Silverschanz, P. (2013). “That’s so Gay”: Heterosexual Male Undergraduates and the Perpetuation of Sexual Orientation Microagressions on Campus. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28(2), 416–435. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260512454719
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