Text last updated 22 January 2017
Links last updated 22 January 2017
Unknown photographer, undated | American Refugee | 14058
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 “The School Report”, 2012, which is based on an online survey of more than 1,600 LGBT young people between the age of 11 and 18. It is the second in a long-term study commissioned by Stonewall and carried out by the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge.
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.
It is clear that as activists we must do more about this menace in our schools and society.
Acts of Parliament
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