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Equality and Poverty Analysis Team

Communities Analytical Services

Scottish Government

1F North

Victoria Quay

Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

Summary: Sexual Orientation and Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning

young people learning Summary: Sexual Orientation and Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning

The Scottish Government does not currently have information on the experiences of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in employability, skills and lifelong learning.

  • In April 2009 to March 2010, at a United Kingdom level, people (aged 16 and over) who identified themselves as gay or lesbian tended to be educated to a higher level than those who identified as either heterosexual or bisexual. 38.4% of gay/lesbian respondents were educated to degree level or higher, compared with 23.8% of bisexual respondents and 21.6% of heterosexual respondents.

Source: Measuring Sexual Identity: An Evaluation Report (2010), Office for National Statistics

These differences in educational attainment are reflected in the findings from the Integrated Household Survey on both employment and socio-economic class.

  • In April 2009 to March 2010, a higher proportion of gay/lesbian people were in the managerial and professional classifications (48.8%) than heterosexual people (29.7%) or bisexual people (26.5%). A higher proportion of bisexual people had never worked or were long-term unemployed than either gay, lesbian or heterosexual respondents.


  • 68.6 per cent of heterosexual/straight respondents aged 16 to 64 were in employment compared with 74.5% of gay/lesbian respondents. Bisexual people were lower with 62.6%.


  • Unemployment rates for lesbian, gay and bisexual people were higher than heterosexual respondents: 9.8% and 8.7% respectively.


  • Almost one-quarter (24.7%) of heterosexual respondents were economically inactive, compared with 29.1% of bisexual respondents and 18.0% of those aged 16 to 64 who identified as gay/lesbian.

Source: Measuring Sexual Identity: An Evaluation Report (2010), Office for National Statistics


Sexual orientation by economic activity status1, April 2009 to March 2010



In employment




(16 and over)


Economically Inactive



Heterosexual/Straight 68.6 8.7 24.7
Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual 70.8 9.8 21.5
Gay/Lesbian 74.5 9.1 18.0
Bisexual 62.6 11.5 29.1
Other 58.8 13.2 32.0
Don't Know/Refusal 63.4 9.9 29.5
Non Response 70.8 11.7 19.7

1. The headline employment and inactivity rates are based on the population aged 16–64 but the headline unemployment rate is based on the economically active population aged 16 and over. The employment and inactivity rates for those aged 16 and over are affected by the inclusion of the retired population in the denominators and are therefore less meaningful than the rates for those aged 16–64. However, for the unemployment rate for those aged 16 and over, no such effect occurs as the denominator for the unemployment rate is the economically active population which only includes people in work or actively seeking and able to work.

2. The total number of eligible responders to this question was 238,206.

Source: Measuring Sexual Identity: An Evaluation Report (2010), Office for National Statistics



Useful Links

Sexual Orientation Page

Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning Page

External Research

External Research

This research has been carried out independently of the Scottish Government and the findings do not necessarily represent the views of the Scottish Government or Scottish Ministers.

  • 23% of LGB staff in one study had been harassed or bullied, compared to 10% of staff as a whole.

Source: Frost (2006)[23], reported in Scottish Government Equality Outcomes: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Evidence Review (2013)


National Union of Students (NUS) Education Beyond the Straight and Narrow - LGBT students' experience in higher education: Presents the findings of research which explored the experience of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) students in higher education, focusing specifically on their everyday life on campus, their access to different services and factors that influence success and course completion. Draws on a national survey of more than 4,000 respondents from 80 higher education institutions in the UK.



Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning