October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

Gay Bullying Statistics: Homophobic Bullying in Schools

What Is Gay Bullying in Schools?

Gay and Homophobic Bullying in Schools StatisticsGay bullying is verbal, physical or relational bullying against a person because of their perceived sexual orientation. This can happen to an individual regardless of their actual sexual orientation – heterosexual youth can be accused of being queer and attacked as such.

In and out of school, the terms used to bully boys are often homophobic bullying terms like gay, fag, queer, homo, etc – terms meant to diminish their male identify or make them appear more feminine in the eyes of peers. Similarly, terms used to bully girls are often meant to make them appear more masculine and less feminine.

Gay Bullying Statistics

LGBTQ youth are far more likely to be bullied than students of the majority sexual orientation. In fact, the percentage of gay youth that are bullied is 2 to 3 times higher than that of heterosexual youth.
To make matters worse, the school environment can be extremely caustic for queer youth regardless of whether they’re the target of gay bullying. A 1998 study by Mental Health America found that students heard anti-gay slurs such as “homo”, “faggot” and “sissy” about 26 times a day on average, or once every 14 minutes.

In the article, “Young, Gay, and Bullied”, I. Rivers wrote about his 1996 study where he interviewed 140 gay and lesbian youth and found that 80% had experienced taunting about their sexual orientation and over half had been physically assaulted or ridiculed by peers or teachers.

In the UK, a survey by Schools Health Education Unit found that 2/3’s of gay and lesbian students in Britain’s schools have experienced gay bullying. Most of that gay bullying was in the form of verbal attacked. A staggering 41 percent had been physically attacked and 17 percent had received death threats.

Recent Gay Bullying Stories & News

  • August 29, 2013: A 15-year-old girl who suffered bullying of a homophobic nature was found dead in south-east London. “[At Secondary School] people used to call me a lesbian or bisexual. They accused me of looking at them whilst they were getting changed.” … “It all got to me at some point and I did self harming. I used to cut myself every night before I went to bed.”
  • October 14, 2011: Jamie Hubley, the son of Ottawa city councillor Allan Hubley, committed suicide after years of gay bullying and having blogged for a month about the anti-gay bullying he was facing at school. The homophobic bullying started in Grade 7 with Jamie’s classmates trying to stuff batteries in his mouth on the bus because he preferred figure skating over hockey.
  • September 22, 2010: Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student, committed suicide on September 22, 2010, after his roommate secretly recorded his sexual encounter with another man.

Support for LGTBQ Youth

In the US, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (http://www.glsen.org/) works to end bullying in the K-12 school system.

In Canada, Egale Canada (http://egale.ca/) advocates on behalf of LGTBQ youth and has programs available to support them.

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