The Shocking Statistics of Homophobic Bullying

Posted on: November 25, 2011

I’ve always been passionate about equality, whether its skin tone, race, religion or indeed, sexuality.  While I understand the basic ethical principals of discussing sexuality and realise it could be classed as a sensitive topic (APA, 6th Edition) I may find myself ranting about the bullies who claim that there is no freedom to love the same sex.  Since, of course, this is a stats and psychology blog, I shall also be explaining the possible reasons why people essentially bully those with a different sexual orientation.

“When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”  ~Epitaph of Leonard P. Matlovich, 1988

Attempting to not ruffle any feathers, I shall just dish out the statistics:

  • 84% of LGBT students report being verbally harassed (name calling, threats, etc.) because of their sexual orientation.
  • 91.5% of LGBT students report hearing homophobic remarks at school
  • 82.9% of LGBT students report that faculty or staff never intervened or intervened only some of the time when present and homophobic remarks were made.
  • 97% of high school students report hearing homophobic remarks regularly from peers.
  • 53% of students report hearing homophobic comments made by school staff.
  • It is estimated that between 15 and 25 children commit suicide every year in the UK alone, because they are being bullied.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has found that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth attempt suicide at a rate three to six times that of similar-age heterosexual youth.

[Source: (All from GLSEN. (2003). The 2003 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.) http://www.youthprideri.org/Resources/Statistics/tabid/227/Default.aspx]

These shocking statistics are just the tip of the iceburg when it comes down to homophobic bullying; I find it so difficult to believe that adults such as teachers can also be bullies, but to understand the main reason for homophobic bullying, we must first look at bullying as a whole.

Following Fuller (2008)’s rankism (reasons for bullying and discriminatory behaviour based on the need for heirarchy status) it makes sense that many human beings – whatever position they’re in! – will bully the minority to assume their dominance.   But as shocking as a unwilling-to-step-in teacher sounds, there are also reports that argue the bystander affect is as rife amongst teachers as it is amongst pupils when it comes to bullying.  According to Entenman, (2005) a teacher may not intervene because they are a minority (i.e. a group of students vs. a single teacher), despite their age and position, furthermore, a teacher may not step in because of bullying by fear of being bullied themselves out of association (which is as rife amongst staff as it is school peers – this would involve ‘Workplace Bullying’).  Mac an Ghaill (1994) say that 93% of homonegativism arises from a general belief in Western cultures that gay men are sexually coercive.  In his study of concepts of masculinity among secondary school pupils, Mac an Ghaill found that male pupils believed that being in close proximity to a gay man may have an effect on their own sexuality.  In other words, people were concerned that a sexuality could be “caught” like a common cold!  Crazy, huh?!

“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?”  ~Ernest Gaines

In the United Kingdom, the Equality and Human Rights Commission reported in 2010 that “Homophobic bullying is widespread in British secondary schools. Nearly half of all secondary schoolteachers in England acknowledge that such bullying is common, and just 1 in 6 believe that their school is very active in promoting respect for LGBT students.”

So should we be doing something about this lack of respect?  Most certainly!

If (according to Mac an Ghaill) the main reason behind homophobic bullying is the insecurity that a sexuality could be passed on by some sort of weird contact (the quote they claimed they heard the most from bullies was:  “I don’t really mind gays, as long as they don’t  touch me”) then it is obvious students are ill-educated in schools and respect and understanding on all equality should most definitely be hammered home!  Ignorance amongst cultures, races, religions and gender/sexuality are the causes of things like this.  And although tolerance is seemingly improving (D’Angelli, et al. 2002) there is still so much to do!

“Who would give a law to lovers?  Love is unto itself a higher law.”  ~Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, A.D. 524

Over the past ten years, ten countries now allow legalised gay-marriage, us in the UK for example, only support civil unions (which do not have the same rights as a lawful marriage!) by 2015, parliament wants to implicate the gay marriage legalisation, but that’s still a long way away!

Sexuality certainly isnt something that can be simply “passed on” by others… but homophobia is!  If we educate our youth about equality, we ultimately change these shocking statistics about homophobic bullying – afterall, bullies are inclined to pick on a “minority” – and a minority is only a minority if there is no one else to stand beside them!

[References are hyperlinked]


7 Responses to "The Shocking Statistics of Homophobic Bullying"

Interesting topic, especially with the controversial anti-gay laws happening in Russia right now. (or not, if the Russian Government actually bother to listen to the rest of the world) http://allout.org/en/actions/russia_silenced/taf
It’s sad that being gay was only finally removed from the DSM in 1986, previous to that it had been downgraded from a mental disorder per se in 1973, and thaat 20 years after the death of Freddie Mercury one of the most famous gay men of his time (once he finally ‘came out’) there are still enormous hurdles to be overcome. Hopefully one day, being gay will be as normal as, well, as it really is. I mean, people aren’t discriminated against for prefering tea over coffee are they? But in the same way as blacks in America have progressed from Martin Luther Kings time to today, when they have a black president, gay rights will eventualy normalise to the point where it won’t even be an issue.

You have taken a very interesting topic.I hope all those who undergo at present homophobic bullying will have the strength to stand against it and will not take any wrong decisions. I have read that there are number of support group growing to help the people who are a victims of homophobic bullying. Active organisations in UK are Stonewall UK (Stonewall, Mayor of London Launch Anti-Homophobic Bullying ), Belong To LGBT Organisation (http://www.belongto.org/pro/default.aspx) and Anti Bullying Network (http://www.antibullying.net/homophobicinfo3.htm).
Not only in UK also in countries like in Canada, US, Brazil Russia… organisation are developed to support these people.
This shows that people are coming together and form an organisation not only to support but also to oppose those who are involved in bullying which means there are people who accept LGBT people. This is a good sign.

I think it’s crazy that homosexuality was only removed as a mental disorder from the DSM in 1973! http://www.mindofmodernity.com/not-sick-the-1973-removal-of-homosexuality-from-the-dsm

People who were homosexual used to be seen as having an actual mental disorder, as real as depression or schizophrenia! They even got shock treatments to try and ‘cure’ them. If even professionals like this only realised the error of their ways 39 years ago, how long until the whole world catches up and we can get rid of this prejudice forever?

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Love the Article, it helped alot in a Opinion artical that i wrote for my school paper.
-Garrett McAlpine

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