Bullying is a form of behaviour to intentionally causes another person distress, hurt and/ or injury - physically, mentally, and/ or emotionally. It involves a perceived or real imbalance of 'power' or 'advantage' such as status/ background, popularity, physical strength, and access to sensitive/ embarrassing information.
Bullying behaviours often include teasing, threat, intimidation, disclosure, use of force and violence, coercion, aggression, and abuse. Bullying is often repeated, becoming habitual, and the person being bullied has done nothing to “cause” the bullying and has trouble defending themselves.
Cyberbullying is conducted online via social media, email, and/ or text messaging. Whether online or in the real world, there are different forms of bullying:
- Verbal, eg: name-calling, teasing, taunting, inappropriate sexual comments, threats to cause harm
- Social, eg: telling others not to be friends with someone, embarrassing someone, starting and spreading rumours, damaging someone’s reputation, intentionally leaving someone out of a group/ circle of friends
- Physical, eg: hurting a person’s body or possessions, including tripping/ pushing, spitting, hitting/ punching/ kicking/ pinching, taking/ breaking a person’s belongings/ possessions, making disrespectful/ rude hand gestures
Bullying doesn’t only happen in school, it can also happen later in life, at work, for example, and there are often lasting implications for those who are bullied and those who bully.
Homophobic and transphobic bullying (at school)
Homophobic and transphobic bullying is when people behave or speak in a way which makes someone feel bullied because of their actual or perceived gender and/ or sexuality. People may be a target of this type of bullying because of their appearance, behaviour, and physical traits or because they have friends or family who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or questioning ... or possibly just because they are seen as being different.
Like all forms of bullying, homophobic bullying can be through name-calling, spreading rumours, cyberbullying, and physical or sexual and emotional abuse. Young people have described to us how they have been subjected to hate campaigns against them, which can start off within the classroom and then move onto social media. This has devastated those being bullied in this way, and some have moved schools and had their lives disrupted because of the actions of the bullies.
Not only does this affect a young person’s self-esteem, emotional health and well-being but it also can affect their attendance at school and their attainment. This type of bullying can also include threats to 'out' you to friends and family about your sexuality, even if you are not gay, lesbian or bisexual.
If you are being bullied
If you are experiencing bullying, you may be:
- Questioning or unsure of your sexuality and/ or gender identity
- Struggling with your studies
- Playing truant or avoiding classes
- Feeling bad about yourself and your future
- Feeling frightened or alone
Examples of bullying are when people
- Write vicious and hurtful comments on social networking sites and/ or post offensive pictures
- Verbally abuse or threaten you and/ or name call; eg: gay, fag, fairy, poofter
- Exclude you from conversations, social groups, parties, and invitations
- Throw things at you, unintentionally bump into you, hit you, and/ or graffiti your possessions
- Out you by telling other people or spreading rumours that you are gay
- Deliberately misuse pronouns when addressing you; eg: referring to you as she if you are male
What to do
- Remember: you are not alone.
- Be brave thing to do is to talk to someone. Some people and organisations can listen to you, understand you, and respect your confidentiality
- Do not make contact or engage with the bully
- Do not delete texts/ messages, etc. Save everything you receive, and it helps to take screenshots.
- If you think you are in physical danger or fear for your life call 999
Bullying at school
All schools have a duty of care to ensure the safety and emotional well-being of every person in their care. Schools need to be aware of the homophobia endemic in British schools and its effects on learning, health, and self-esteem. Anti-bullying activities can improve pupils’ behaviour, social relationships, and level of academic achievement.
Education policies in England overlook bullying of LGBT+ pupils | The Conversation | 1 Feb 2021
Cut to anti-bullying funding in England for LGBTQ+ young people 'callous' | The Guardian | 19 Nov 2020
Pathways to LGBT+ Inclusion: Report | 2020 | Diversity Role Models