Serious homophobic bullying in Irish schools

Vanja Skotnes

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Young LGBT people are every day experiencing bullying – both from their peers and their teachers. Research recently launched shows that over 70 per cent felt that they couldn’t be themselves at school. Many schools do not even address issues about sexual orientation.

“I left school because of the hurt and suffering I got in school, and the teachers didn’t care, as I think it was a case of “well they call him gay and he probably is gay, so why should we step in?” – gay, male, 23.

Homophobic and transphobic bullying pose a serious physical and mental health threat to young people.

1110 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people participated in this research carried out by GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network).

Threatened and afraid

Results of the research:

  • 58 % reported the existence of homophobic bullying in their schools
  • Over 50 % had been called abusive names by fellow students
  • 34 % reported homophobic comments by teachers and other staff members
  • 25 % had been threatened by peers
  • 40 % had been verbally threatened by fellow students because they were or were thought to be LGBT
  • 72 % felt that they couldn’t be themselves at school
  • 20 % admitted to missing school because they felt threatened or were afraid of getting hurt at school

Suicidal behaviour

There is a direct link between homophobic bullying and suicidal behaviour amongst young LGBT people. Those who experience homophobic bullying may be more likely to attempt suicide.

Research has found that the most common age for a young person to discover their sexual orientation or gender identity for themselves is 12 years of age, and the most common age to start “coming out to others” is 17 years of age. This 5 years gap coincides with puberty, school and a critical period of social, emotional and vocational development.

Research among asked teachers found that:

  • The majority of teachers hear and witness homophobic name-calling and bullying
  • A sizeable proportion of teachers are aware of physical homophobic bullying
  • Most teachers wants to do something to address homophobic bullying
  • Many teachers feel ill-prepared to be able to do something about addressing this issue

Have a look at this film about standing up for homophobic bullying:


/ 8 Articles

Vanja Skotnes

As a former journalist for Amnesty International, I will use this blog to write about human rights abuses. My intention is to create more awareness. Follow my posts and stay updated. Twitter: @vanjaskotnes

  • Nina Stiles

    This is a well-written article about a very important subject! Nice work, Vanja! 🙂

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Nina!!

  • Elise

    Very interesting facts and a well-written article. Looking forward to read some more of your work. You go girl!

  • Vanja Skotnes

    Thank you, Elise! Horrifying facts in my opinion. Stay tuned, girl.

  • kim

    i thought that kinda bullying would be only in non-european countries… thanks for good info, and thanks for writing this article ..!

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks, Kim. Yeah, one should think so. However, homophobia is alive and well. Homosexuality wasn’t decriminalized in Ireland until the year of 1993 – in contrary to Norway, which made it legal to be gay in 1972..

  • Claire Sheeran

    Really good piece! Really well presented.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Claire! Appreciate it!

  • Kristine

    Great article, even though the statistic are horrifying. You convey a very important issue. Good job 🙂

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks a lot, Kristine. Yeah, the statistics are cruel and I’m hoping this important issue will be highlighted by the media in a greater extent.

  • Emma

    Very very good article, well written! Sad statistics!

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thank you, Emma! Yes, I agree.

  • Charlotte

    Ignorance and fear. Two unnecessary factors.
    Communication and information. Two necessary factors!
    k! Knowledge and understanding of fellow human beings is the way to go 🙂
    Keep up the good work, Vanja!

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Wise words, Charlotte!!! Thanks!!

  • Ronnie Rosendal

    Gay people deserve an education that is free from bullying and harassment. Great article!

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Amen to that, Ronnie! Thank you:)

  • morten skotnes

    well done Vanja,iam proud too be u father;) u make the differents in this world;)

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks, my sweet father:)

  • Martin

    This is very upsetting to read. Beeing a teacher myself I have experienced bullying between students in and outside the classroom. It is of utmost importance that teachers have the guts to take actions when they witness homophobic harassment, or other forms of bullying. Too often teachers tend to look the other way. It is great that you shine a light on this still existing problem in Irish schools.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Good words, Martin. You are an important role model for teachers. Thanks for the comment.

  • Tonje R. Brandsdal

    It’s so sad that so many lgbt kids can’t be themselves because of other peoples ignorance or narrow mindedness. School should be a safe place. Hopefully the Irish school system will find a way to overcome homophobia amongst teachers and students. Well done, V.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      I agree, Tonje. Thank you.

  • Stian Karlsen

    This is a very important issue about peoples identity, school associations should have this article on their table. Change is needed! Good job=)

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Change is needed, indeed. Thank you, Stian.

  • Mathilde Torsøe

    A very important thing to write about, Vanja! Really sad statistics.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Yeah..Thanks, Mathilde.

  • Finn

    Great article Vanja. Sad to read.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks, Finn.

  • Lina

    These statistics are so sad. Glad you are putting a focus on this Vanja, great job.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Yes they are. Thank you, Lina.

  • Nikolai

    This frightens me. I bet there are simular statistics in other countries as well. That being said, a very interesting and well-written article about an important topic! Good job.

  • Amalie Knudsen

    Nice piece Vanja.

    • Vanja Skotnes

      Thanks, Amalie.

  • Reidun

    Nikolai makes a really good point, I think. Horrible statistics, as mentioned above, but it makes me curious; do we know where the sample was taken from, i.e. from what kind of schools? Or from any specific area?

  • Vanja Skotnes

    That is a good point as well, Reidun. I have linked to the research in the text – have a look. Unfortunately I don’t know exactly which schools in what area participated in this research.

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