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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2SteI_0b2A

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:

 

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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