THE RESEARCH

The FREE (Fostering the Right to Education in Europe) project is a cross-national study investigating how schools in Europe respond to issues of youth's sexual and gender identity. 

Several decades of research have demonstrated compromised well-being and school achievement for LGBTQ youth relative to their peers, and much of that work has focused on negative experiences at school as key factors associated with these differences.

The Minority Stress Model offers a framework to understand the processes underlying sexual and gender identity disparities. It posits that LGBTQ people experience a unique set of stressors related to stigma.

Existing knowledge on the experiences of European LGBTQ students at school has been truncated due to several notable limitations. Most of the studies on school-level risk and protective factors for LGBTQ students have been conducted in the United States and Canada. Few studies have been conducted in Europe. 


The general goal of the proposed study is to contribute to a fuller understanding of factors that may influence LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ students’ experienced minority stressors, and the associated mental health and school achievement. These factors will be examined at different social-ecological levels: individual, school micro- and meso-systems, community exo-system, and country macro-system.

For this purpose, we will collect data from different European countries.

Data will be collected administering online surveys to LGBTQ highs school students aged 14-19, through multiple nonprobability sampling methods largely used in research on LGBTQ issues.
A cross-national study would provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the consistency of minority stressors for LGBTQ students in Europe, and would greatly inform research, policy, and intervention efforts with a greater understanding of the influence of cultural and societal norms on experienced minority stress at school.