“Being gay is natural. Hating gay is a lifestyle choice.” -- John Fugelsang
Homophobic bullying is when people behave or speak in a way which makes someone feel bullied because of their actual or perceived sexuality. People may be a target of this type of bullying because of their appearance, behaviour, physical traits or because they have friends or family who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning or possibly just because they are seen as being different.
"Telling everyone in the dining hall, class, individuals, family at community events/school events that I am gay (I am not gay), even going up to my parents telling them I am, and saying crude things, homophobic things, but I am not gay."
Like all forms of bullying, homophobic bullying can be through name calling, spreading rumours, cyberbullying, 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 moved 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 wellbeing but it also can have an effect on 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.
Tips on dealing with LGBTQ bullying
If you're being bullied in this way you need to tell your parents and report it to a teacher. Keep a diary of the remarks or behaviour. If you feel unable to speak to your parents or a teacher, perhaps you can approach another adult you can trust to get some help. Hopefully if you have good friends, they can give you support to help get it stopped too.
If you feel able to, ignore the bullying so you are not giving the bully the reaction they are looking for. You can also be assertive and let them know that they are the ones that are looking stupid and ignorant. It is important to note, that if you feel they could get aggressive, then do not put yourself at risk as your safety is more important.
If this bullying spills over into threats or violence then it should be reported to the police as a hate crime. Many police forces have specialist units to deal with these incidents.
If you are being bullied online or via social media, take screenshots and keep them as evidence to show your parents, the school or the police.
Ask the school to do some work on LGBTQ bullying within your school if you feel able to, sometimes educating others can help enormously in making them realise their actions and consequences.
In many cases the people who are picking on you are projecting their prejudice on to others. They may also hear homophobic remarks being used by other people who hold outdated attitudes and think it is acceptable to act in this way when clearly it is not. This can often show their ignorance and closed minds.