Homophobic bullying is speaking or behaving in a way that makes the other person feel like they are being bullied for their perceived or actual sexuality. People can be targeted because of behavior, appearance, physical traits, or even when they have family or friends who are gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, or questioning, or considered different.
There was a survey done where one of the young people on it wrote of how the bullies were telling everyone in the class, dining hall, family at community events, individuals, and school events that he was gay (he was not gay). They even went further and approached the parents to tell them that he was gay and other homophobic things.
Advice for homophobic bullying
Just like normal bullying, homophobic bullying can be in the form of name-calling, cyberbullying, spreading rumors, physical or emotional, and sexual abuse. Young people have described how they have been subjected to hate campaigns, which can start in the classroom then move to social media. This has forced some of the bullied students to move to other schools, which has disrupted their lives. All that happened because of what bullies did.
This is going to have a big impact on their self-esteem, wellbeing, and emotional health. It can also cause lower school attendance, which can lead to lower grades. The bullying can also be in the form of threats to ‘out’ the victim to their friends and family about their sexuality, even If they are not lesbian, gay, or bisexual. For help dealing with the affects of homophobic bullying contact the Clarity Clinic.
How common is it?
After name-calling, homophobic bullying is the most common form of bullying. 96% of gay students hear homophobic terms in school, according to Stonewall’s School report. 99% of students hear ‘you’re so gay’ or ‘that’s so gay’ in school. 54% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people felt like there was no adult they can speak to about their sexuality. The most worrying part is 6% of gay, lesbian, or bisexual students were subjected to death threats.
This can be very complicated for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students because they cannot share this with anyone. Many of them have not come out. Reporting these cases to the teacher or administration is going to be hard because it is going to involve coming out.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all those experiencing homophobic bullying are lesbian, gay, or bisexual or even questioning their sexuality. It can happen to anyone even straight students.
Workshops at secondary schools have resulted in working with young people and exploring homophobic bullying in-depth, including how they feel when they go through that, and the effect it has on their behavior. There was a survey done by the National Union of Teacher that showed the most prevalent issues is verbal abuse and obscene names. Homophobic terms cause the most offense. 65% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual experienced homophobic bullying in school. 66% of young people suffered from bullying at school, with 58% of them not reporting, and half skipping school because of it.
Tips for dealing with LGBTQ bullying
If you have been bullied this way, then you need to talk to your parents or a teacher. Have a diary where you note down the behavior or remarks. If it isn’t possible to speak to a teacher or parent, then you can approach an adult you trust and tell them what you are going through. If you have a good friend, then they can support you and even stop it.
If possible, try ignoring the bullies so they don’t get the reaction they are expecting from you. Being assertive and letting them know that their behavior is making them come out as ignorant and stupid can also help. If you feel like they can get aggressive, then it is important not to put yourself at risk because safety is the most important thing.
If the bullying results in threats or violence, then it can be reported to the police because it is a hate crime. Most police forces today have specialist units dealing with such incidents.
If the bullying is on social media or online, take a screenshot so you can have evidence to show the school, your parents, and the police.
If you can, ask the school to do something about the homophobic bullying in the school. Educating others can sometimes make them realize their actions and consequences.
In most instances, those bullying others usually project their prejudice onto others. Maybe they heard those homophobic remarks from other people who have an outdated view and attitude and think it is okay to behave that way. This can be a sign of their closed minds and ignorance.
What can parents do?
Parents can be an important part of tackling homophobic bullying. The parent should;
Talk to their child: this will involve asking them how they feel and if everything is fine at school, instead of asking the kid whether they are bullied. They might be worried and embarrassed that you will think they are gay, and can decide not to tell you anything.
Keep in mind that homophobic bullying can happen to any young person, regardless of their orientation. Just because they are experiencing homophobic bullying doesn’t mean they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Being supportive. Your kid needs to know that you are going to listen when they talk about bullying, and they can trust you with what they are going to say. Don’t pressure, let them do it at their own time. Your work will be asking them how they want to proceed. You can choose to approach the school together.
Make sure you have checked with the school to see the procedures they have in place to deal with bullying, especially homophobic bullying. It is a good idea to involve the child when discussing how to deal with the bullying. If you are not happy with the response of the teacher, then consider talking to the principal or even bringing the issue to the attention of the school governors. Make sure you always include the child throughout the process.
You should also check out the school bullying policy. See if they have a separate policy to deal with homophobic bullying, and not lumped up in a general bullying policy. If they have one, then ask them to show you. If they don’t have it, then ask them to remedy it and come up with one. Challenge the school because that is how you are going to change things. The school has the duty of providing care to all of the children attending. Research has shown that bullying dramatically reduced when the school taught the children that it is wrong to bully, and pupils felt safer when they were in school. Under the Education and Inspections Act 2006, the school has a legal obligation to deal with homophobic bullying.
If this doesn’t stop the bullying, then visit the Local Education Authority to demand action. There are cases where changing schools can work, but a vulnerable child is going to be vulnerable no matter where they go. You can encourage them to take a self-defense class like judo. This is going to make them confident and can demand themselves if need be.