(On homophobic bullying)
By: Valentine Rossetti
Bullying! To sum it up in three words bullying is inappropriate, uncivilized and down right disgusting. It is a word which sends fear and dread into the minds of all good people. It is something which the majority of human beings across the globe have experienced, some mildly and others intensely. The levels of bullying people experience varies, in its mildest forms it can be just an annoyance which a person shrugs off, however in its darker forms it can be truly unbearable, and can lead a person into a deep depression, and possibly suicide. There can be many reasons why a person is bullied, such as their weight or the colour of their skin, and also their sexuality.
Homophobic bullying along with racial bullying is above all the worst and most destructive thing imaginable, particularly when it is directed at a child. Experiencing any form of bullying in your teenage years is truly awful, with a bevy of hormones and an exaggerated amount of growing up to come to terms with, having the thick black cloud of hideous name calling and physical abuse directed at you, whether at home or at school is nothing less than experiencing a hell on earth. In Britain, the gay rights and lobbying organization Stonewall conducted a nation wide survey on homophobic bullying in schools, titled ‘School Report’ and found surprising and in some cases alarming results!
The biggest and most alarming find of the Stonewall survey, was that gay and lesbian children are six times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts through bullying; other revelations found were that nine in ten teachers have witnessed children being bullied because of their sexuality and also found that homophobic bullying is the second most frequent form of bully after bullying of weight and three times more prevalent than bullying due to religion or ethnicity. In light of these findings Stonewall put forward recommendations to tackle homophobic bullying in schools which included awareness training on how teachers can tackle it. However startling these findings are, the treatment of sexuality in the majority of British schools is very open and easy going, since the repeal of Section 28, legislation which was included in the 1988 Local Government Act. Put forward by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to “stop the spread of homosexuality in schools” gay and lesbian children do have people to turn to when being bullied, such as the many anti-bullying charities and help lines like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the London lesbian and Gay Switchboard and Bullying UK.
“…a survey conducted on a number of work place orgs found that nearly 1 in 5 lesbians and gay men have experienced bullying from their colleagues because of their sexual orientation”
It is not just at school gay people experience the devastating effects of bullying, but in the work place too, many people have had to put with it at some point. I spoke with Chris who works at a local newspaper in the city of Manchester, he says “I have a great job, but I’m finding the culture at the office progressively homophobic. After coming out to a colleague, the atmosphere is progressively strained, with sniggering at meetings and offensive emails doing the rounds. It’s starting to really upset me” a survey conducted on a number of work place organizations found that nearly one in five lesbians and gay men have experienced bullying from their colleagues because of their sexual orientation. But the government has put forward some effective legislation to tackle this problem, such as legislation making it unlawful for any employer to victimize an employee on the grounds of sexuality as well as colour, race, gender, disability and religion.