Text last updated 31 December 2017
Links last updated 31 December 2017
Unknown photographer, undated | American Refugee | 14058
No one should be bullied for their sexuality.
It’s so important to be proud of the person you are.
Prince William, British LGBT Awards, 2017
What this is about
The education system in the UK has been trying for some years to deal with the issue of bullying of pupils and students who are perceived to be gay or lesbian, by their peers and by staff. Teachers should also deal with language issues such as the use of “gay” as an insult. There has only been limited success so far.
55% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experience homophobic bullying at school; 96% say they hear words like “poof” or “lezza” in the classroom, according to Stonewall’s 2012 “School Report”, based on an online survey of more than 1,600 LGBT young people between the age of 11 and 18.
In 2017 a fresh survey found that 45 per cent of students who are trans had attempted suicide, and 22 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual students had done the same. The proportion of gay teenagers who say they have been bullied is similar to the 2012 research, at around half. 52 per cent reported homophobic language at school.
There are several ways that anti-gay bullying can take place including verbal, physical, cyberbullying and indirect bullying.
Physically being bullied involves physical assault or attack, and having one’s personal property destroyed or stolen.
Verbal bullying is name calling because of a person’s gender, sexual orientation, minority status, race, religious, etc.
Indirect bullying is very common and includes spreading stories and rumors about a person behind his or her back and exclusion from social groups.
Cyber bullying includes bullying that is done over any type of electronic medium.
The big shock in the report was the numbers of our young citizens who are self-harming. Almost one in four of those surveyed said they had tried to take their own life at some point (compared to 7% of all young people) and 56% said they had self-harmed – deliberately cutting or burning themselves, for example.
In 2014, the Independent reported that the proportion of schoolchildren considering suicide was 40%. The Youth Chances project was the biggest social research study into young LGBT people ever undertaken in England and it found that self-harming had been tried by 50% of young people. 42 per cent had sought medical help for anxiety or depression.
In August 2016 the New York Times reported the first survey of gay, bisexual and lesbian high school teenagers in the US. It found that they were three times more likely to have been raped than straight students. They skipped school more often because they did not feel safe. A third had been bullied on school property. They were twice as likely to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.
Bullying and harassment are illegal in the UK.
Some forms of bullying are illegal in the UK, including being bullied at school or college, and must be reported to the Police, as crimes may have been committed. They include:
violence or assault;
repeated harassment or intimidation, for example name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages; and
Some forms of bullying take place at work. Harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. These types of bullying are considered unlawful under that law:
spreading malicious rumours;
picking on or regularly undermining someone;
denying someone’s training or promotion opportunities, and
Bullying and harassment can happen face-to-face, by letter, email or by phone.
The way forward
It is clear that as activists we must do more about this menace in our schools and society. It is very difficult to change the behaviour and culture of society, and takes time.
Join in projects to address these challenges
Share experience and practice
Challenge any bullying or harassment we encounter.
Ladies Home Journal, Undated: Bullying of gay teenagers
The Independent, 3 Feb 2014: Mental health crisis looms for gay teenagers
New York Times, 12 Aug 2016: (USA) Gay and lesbian teenagers violence survey