Research seminar: From bullying to going out on the scene every night: exploring (mis)understandings about LGBTQ students’ experiences of higher education

In a series: Educational Research Seminars 2015-16
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Eleanor Formby from Sheffield Hallam presents her research into LGBTQ students' experiences in higher education



Educational research seminar, 1 October 2015


From bullying to going out on the scene every night: exploring (mis)understandings about LGBTQ students’ experiences of higher education

Eleanor Formby, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Education and Inclusion Research, Sheffield Hallam University

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans (LGBT) young people are increasingly visible in policy and practice, often in relation to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. However, this can result in misunderstandings and/or over-simplification about all LGBT(Q) students’ needs and experiences (who may or may not be young!). The #FreshersToFinals project was undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University to develop a fuller understanding of LGBTQ students’ experiences of higher education. Seven overarching themes were identified, regarding university choice-making; financial issues; accommodation issues; facilities and service provision on campus; curriculum and course content; discrimination, prejudice and ‘bullying’, and careers-related issues. This seminar will discuss these areas, and how they relate to common (perceived) understandings of university life for LGBTQ people. In conclusion, I will outline the need for nuanced understandings of, and responses to, LGBTQ people’s experiences of university.

Eleanor Formby is a Senior Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University. Her research interests centre on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) wellbeing, and on young people’s learning about sex and sexualities. She has published a range of journal articles and research reports in these fields. Currently she is leading the evaluation of two projects funded by the Government Equalities Office to address homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools. Previously, she has carried out a needs assessment for trans young people, led research on the impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying in Europe, and examined the barriers and facilitators to issues about gender and sexual identities being included within teaching and youth work practice. Eleanor has also conducted research on understandings and experiences of ‘LGBT communities’ in the UK, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the subject of a forthcoming book (Exploring LGBT spaces and communities, Routledge). For more information see:

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