IGLYO – The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Intersex (LGBTQI) Youth & Student Organisation has created the LGBTQI Inclusive Education Index to support national governments and civil society organisations within the Council of Europe to ensure the right to education for all. The Index is a valuable tool to evaluate the current levels of inclusion within each country, provide good practice examples and build international commitment on this important issue.

Narrative, origins and objectives of the initiative

What kind of project is this? Please give a short description (summary) of it.

IGLYO worked with an international group of experts to develop the first edition of the LGBTQI Inclusive Education Indicators on the basis of previous research. LGBTQI learners not only need to be protected by explicit laws and policies to achieve their potential, they also require other concrete practices, like confident and knowledgeable school staff, access to appropriate information and support, and an inclusive and affirming curriculum and school environment. If Member States are to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals of gender equality, good health and well-being, reduced inequalities, and quality education, schools need to be safe, inclusive and supportive of all young people.

The Indicators analyse the following areas:

  • Anti-discrimination law applicable to education
  • Policies and action plans
  • Inclusive national curricula
  • Teacher training on LGBTQI awareness
  • Gender recognition
  • Data collection on bullying and harassment
  • Support systems
  • Information and guidelines
  • Partnership between governments and civil society
  • International commitment

Please tell us why, in general, this project is considered a successful one?

What started out as a very small scale project, attracted more organisations than originally assumed. IGLYO managed to use the indicators to draw a state-of-the-art picture for all 47 Council of Europe countries plus Kosovo and the Belarus. 25% of governments gave feedback on the findings, which is considered a great success. They also consider it a success measure that their member organisations from all countries evaluated participated in the implementation.

And why would you consider it a grass-roots initiative?

The initiative was started by IGLYO, the LGBTQI youth organisation of Europe based on research and request by some of their members. Although this project mostly targets national policy, the outreach to governments to implement it thus came from civil society.

What challenges needed to be solved in this project?

The main challenge some countries faced was the lack of collaboration by government. For some countries relevant CSOs could provide information with little time investment, while in others it was more complex to gather information.

The real challenge most probably lies in the second phase of the project, to get governments on board to improve their score by implementing recommendations, but this phase is in the future.

Is this initiative based on any particular theoretical framework? Which one?

The basis for the approach was the whole school comprehensive framework developed by UNESCO and it was also based on the Out in the Open report.

(Appendix) Is your intervention standing on its own or is it a part of a bigger and more holistic approach?

It is part of a more holistic approach being based on previous research and having a second phase planned with recommendations and advocacy support.

Please describe the group(s) intended as beneficiaries of this initiative

Why has this group (have these groups) been chosen?

Research showed that this target group is often neglected while they are often a target of harassment and bullying. Research also identified education as a point of intervention for improvements, and in order to improve the inclusion situation in education they identified policy intervention as the most important aspect.

Could you please tell us something about the relative size of the (of each) target group, within the school/university population, region and/or country?

The primary target groups of the initiative are governments and CSOs working in the field. At the same time IGLYO has no estimate for the size of the LGBTQI youth target group.

Which social characteristics are taken into account and what is the geographical area covered?

LGBTQI youth come from all social groups and they face similar problems more or less regardless their background. As IGLYO is a European organisation and the Council of Europe does major work in the field of human rights, choosing Council of Europe countries as the geographical area was obvious.

On which level is the project implemented?

National level Europe-wide.

Please describe the political and socio-economic factors that you believe have been important enablers for your initiative

Did the initiative have political support?

Political support is present on international level, apparent by the active support by UNESCO and the European Union. Political support on national level differ from country to country, and sometimes even from one region to another.

How did it fit with local, regional or national policies?

As all countries have undertaken to ensure human rights, this initiative should fit policies at all levels, but in reality there are major differences between, and even within, countries.

Who are the stakeholders supporting the initiative?

The most important stakeholders are governments and civil society organisations. On the side of government there is a need to have commitment to improve their inclusiveness towards LGBTQI youth in schools. Civil society organisations need to bring in the expertise as well as the willingness to work together with governments on this topic. In an ideal case governments are also ready to collaborate with civil society organisations on inclusion.

Are there particular demographic changes present that are influencing the project?

It isn't really demographic changes that triggered the project, but rather a growing commitment to inclusive education, often in the framework of working towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by countries, and an increasing demand for it by civil society referencing international treaties and the SDGs.

What is the institutional strategy and culture of the (educational) organization?

IGLYO's approach to the topic is based on the necessity of an evidence basis. Therefore all information provided by national organisations is validated by pro bono lawyers the organisation works with. The strategy is also based on collaboration, especially between governments and CSOs.

To what extent does the initiative have an influence on institutional policy (or potential influence) of the (educational) organization?

The interest their project has evoked made IGLYO realise that there is a need for a more systemic and strategic approach to the topic and the implementation methodology.

(Appendix) Is there public support for your initiative and the issue it addresses?

LGBTQI communities fully support the initiative. Public support by other groups is different from country to country and even from one region to another.

(Appendix) What other factors do you think have been important for the success of this initiative?

Nothing else in particular.

Please describe the overall initiative design and the methods and tools used to reach the goals

Please describe the specific activities carried out.

IGLYO worked with a group of international experts to create a comprehensive list of indicators by which to measure LGBTQI inclusion within state schools. An in-depth questionnaire was developed and sent to civil society organisations and education experts in each Council of Europe country. Before sending the questionnaire, a steering group of experts from UNESCO, governments, academia and CSOs validated the indicators. The data was then collated, reviewed and verified by IGLYO, international lawyers and partner organisations ILGA Europe, Transgender Europe and OII Europe. The full findings of the first edition can be found on their website. It forms a good basis of further thinking about necessary action, including policy change.

They are currently working on the second phase that will include recommendations for improvement per country as well as developing advocacy tools for CSOs working in countries where collaboration with the government is more problematic.

For the index they are planning to repeat the exercise of evaluating countries every other year.

What were the key roles (teacher, student, management team etc.) within the project?

IGLYO: defining minimum standards and related indicators, managing the data collection and writing the report in the first phase, preparing recommendations and advocacy tools for the second phase

Partner organisations on European level: advice during the design phase and validation of data collected

National CSOs: collection of data, action planning, and in a later phase advocacy and participation in implementation of action

Governments: in some cases data provision, readiness to revise and improve inclusion policy and action, collaborative approach to involving civil society

What ideas, tools, theories, models, methodology (etc.) have been used to reach the goals?

Social sciences research methodologies were used in the data collection and reporting.

What are the final revenues of the project?

Some governments have already taken significant steps to ensure that education is inclusive of all learners. In particular, 70% of Member States have implemented anti-discrimination laws or action plans. Other practices, however, still remain challenging in most countries. Overall, the main areas for improvement are compulsory education curricula, mandatory teacher training and data collection about bullying and harassment on grounds of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or variation in sex characteristics. Likewise, legal gender recognition based on self-determination is only available in four countries for learners younger than 16.

Out of the 49 countries reviewed, only four (Malta, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) provide most of these measures across Europe as of yet. Some regions in Spain have also developed inclusive laws and policies, but they have not been implemented nationally. By contrast, eleven countries have failed to implement any measure at the time of writing this report (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Latvia, Macedonia, Monaco, Poland, Russia, San Marino, Turkey and Ukraine) and two have made international commitments without implementing any other measures (Liechtenstein and Moldova).

Please describe if your project ensured its sustainability

If so, how did you ensure the short-term impact of the project?

The short-term impact was ensured by closely cooperating with national and European level civil society organisations as well as international and European policy fora. Wherever possible, they also collaborated with national governments.

The short-term impact also depended on the quality and validity of data, so they took great care to only rely on validated and double-checked information.

And how did you ensure the long-term impact of the project?

The long-term impact is ensured by the strategic approach they are taking towards inclusion and the minimum standard defined by IGLYO and measured using the indicators. One element is the strategic thinking about using the methodology for regular review and appraisal, and the other element is their offer to work with governments to improve the situation.

Has your project been replicated elsewhere?

No, but it already covers 49 countries.

Please tell us about the resources used in this initiative

What was the budget for the initiative?

The project started on a small scale, using funding from the Dutch government, but now it is implemented with financial support by the European Commission, DG Justice.

How much did the initiative depend on volunteers?

Volunteer effort was absolutely necessary in the data collection and validation phases on national level.

How were the costs perceived by the public/the sector/other stakeholders?

It was relatively easy to ensure funding after the initial, small project funded by the Dutch government. First they were ready to extend funding, then it was taken on by the EU, so the assumption is that their budget is considered appropriate for the task.

To what extent did the initiative achieve its objectives?

Please describe the evidence to support the success of your initiative.

The evidence is in the number of countries participating, the number of governments that showed interest in the finding and their readiness to improve their practices, as well as the interest and support from European policy makers and UNESCO.

Did the intervention lead to any unintended (positive) outcomes?

Not that they are aware of.

What indicators (quantitative and qualitative) have you measured to demonstrate success?

They are currently working on defining indicators to measure the impact.

(Appendix) How did you evaluate/monitor this intervention?

In the first phase monitoring was basically focused on ensuring quality and evidence basis. In the planned second phase they are going to work on supporting governments in implementing change and on ensuring the 2-year cycle for evaluating inclusion measures per country.