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Survey aims to identify bias faced by LGBT students

More must be done to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people studying in FE, the sector's funding body believes.

Research by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has highlighted "gaps in the support currently available" for LGBT students.

The SFA has created an online survey to evaluate the levels of discrimination suffered by LGBT learners in the sector.

The survey asks students whether they are open about their sexuality and gender identity at home and in college, and whether they have encountered any barriers to their learning as a result.

Christine Doubleday, SFA director of quality and development, said: "Our research in 2009 found there were some gaps in the support currently available.

"We want to find out about the experience in colleges; how that compares with (students' experiences in) other types of learning environment, such as schools. Are they comfortable being out or do they keep their sexuality to themselves?"

The survey will explore the situation beyond the traditionally "straight" world of vocational courses, such as apprenticeships in industry.

"There may well be a focus on vocational areas, but we want to look at the whole area," Ms Doubleday added.

The research will inform the SFA's equality objectives and "provide evidence to support colleges and providers in meeting the forthcoming equality duty".

Interviews will also be conducted with LGBT individuals in FE before the results of the survey are announced in March. All responses are anonymous.

To take part in the survey, go to http:tinyurl.com5w2e4dq. The deadline for submissions is Monday January 31.

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