A homosexual is a person whose romantic and sexual inclinations draw them to persons of the same sex or gender. This term has been used to describe men and women for many years, and in many cases, it was used in a derogatory manner, to offend or humiliate. Society has changed and there are now several different categories of sexual differences for men, women, teens and children to be recognized. In addition to these changes, the LGBT community have also established several societies and clubs worldwide that assist queer young men and women with legal rights in areas such as sports, education, the workplace, health and numerous activities where heterosexuals have the same rights. In short, the LGBT community wish to be comfortable and live normally.
|SEE ALSO: Being a Bigot|
What Does LGBT Mean?
LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person. These people form a group who share the same beliefs concerning sexual orientation. To explain this so that those who are not familiar with these terms can understand, lesbians are females who are emotionally attracted to other females. The term ‘gay’ is used to describe males or females who are romantically inclined to persons of the same gender or sex as they are. Bisexual people are men and women who are attracted to persons of the same gender as well as the opposite gender. Transgender people are those who feel like the gender opposite to the gender they were when they were born.
One of the main areas where homosexual bullying is very obvious is sports. Bullying in this area has driven almost half of college age students from participating in sports. Many feel intimidated by the open homophobic behavior and comments made by straight students and fear joining teams, much less coming out about their sexual orientation. This attitude is also prevalent in the educational system. Many gay and lesbian students fear name calling and harassment from other students because of their sexual differences. Since many new laws have been initiated however, the biased systems in some parts of the U.K. are beginning to change. One gay man stated that college was a blessing to him because he was never judged or harassed. None of his fellow colleagues stereotyped him about his feelings and left him to live and believe as he wanted.
LGBT bullying is prevalent in every form from barring privileges in the work place, to name calling and hateful looks. One British male comedy writer and actor, Doug Faulkner, said his hair was actually set on fire on his way home from high school. He stated that, during his high school years he experienced lonesomeness, low grades and low self-esteem. This emotional down is a typical reaction to stress and tormenting from bullying. Many LGBT teens become anti-social and withdraw from people, constantly fearing their sexual orientation will be found out. According to the nspcc, a United Kingdom website about bullying, those who do come out find it extremely difficult to blend in with the straight population and usually seek out others who believe as they do. The most daunting factor for teen lgbt persons is that, quite often, they receive little or no support from adults. They are told they should ‘ignore’ the taunts or that the school is not in a position to undertake issues of that nature.
Gay teens find gay bullying particularly tiring at their age. Teens are at the stage where they are impressionable, exploring and most of all they want to feel accepted and loved. With gay teens, the harassment isn’t confined to school hours and premises. Teasing, name calling and physical abuse happens on the bus and online as well. Safenetwork.com is a U.K. website dedicated to supporting lgbt children and teens. They form organizations to help lgbt children cope with their feelings while letting them know they are special and deserve love and attention just like other children.
Lesbian teens have found support from programs like EACH and Schools Out. These charities and organizations work to gain equal rights in education and extra-curricular activities for LGBT students. EACH has a hot line where lgbt teens can reach them during normal working hours. Calls are free from landlines and some mobiles. Stonewall is a charity that focuses on stamping out homophobic bullying in schools throughout the U.K. Their education for all website gives information about bullying and how to cope with it. They also give facts and personal studies about bullying providing resources for students and teachers.
Gay bullying statistics
According to the Lesbian and Gay Foundation in Manchester:
- Gay bullying statistics show that bullying is still rampant in British schools.
- Over 55 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual students have been victims of bullying. Homophobic language is like second nature. Nearly all gay teens hear people say ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ during school time. Almost that same number heard homophobic terms like ‘poof’ or ‘lezza’ used by students.
- 60% of gay students who are victims of homophobic slander say that teachers nearby did nothing to stop it.
- A mere 50% of gay students declare that their schools ban homophobic bullying and even less than that in religious schools.
- Gay teens who are victims to bullying are more likely to commit suicide, harm themselves and become depressed. Over 40% have tried or considered suicide as a result of bullying and the same amount commit self-harm because they are bullied.
The Stonewall gay statistics study in 2007 gives many useful resources and high-quality facts about bullying.
- The 2012 gay bullying numbers show that the amount of homophobic persecution of gays, lesbians and bisexual pre-teens and teens has dropped to almost half from 65 percent.
- Gay support in schools has increased to half of what it used to be and is up from one quarter of supporters alone.
- The amount of homophobic students who still fear standing up to bullies has decreased from just under one third to more than half. Even though results could be better it is still a good beginning.
Michael, a 16 year old Hertfordshire resident, says he came out about his sexual orientation when he was 14 and a half. The secret was initially between him and several friends, then spread to the entire school. The spread resulted in his being tormented to no end. When he approached a teacher to air his grievances, he received very little support.
He had a very kind head teacher who asked for a list of offenders, but the school in general still treated Michael’s issue as though it were an everyday occurrence. The teacher did speak to the perpetrators about it, but it only compounded the problem.
Michael was told to speak to his school’s guidance counselor about ‘his problems.’ He became an insomniac and was referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed medication.
After a time the bullying problem became less severe even though it still continued with spurts of name calling from time to time. Michael says he can’t remember one day passing without his being called a name, or without reference made to his sexual preference. He still can’t figure out how every single young adult in his home town knew about him.
On two occasions Michael was physically attacked and hospitalized. The crimes were reported to the authorities but with little results. Michael said the incidents left him feeling suicidal.
Seventeen year old Holly, a Hampshire native, took three months to build up the nerve to reveal her sexual identity. Even though she understood it could result in her being bullied, attacked or even killed, she felt she had to do it to continue her life normally.
The first person she made her confession to was her best friend. She was relieved to find that her friend suspected her sexual orientation all along, so this made her feel better.
She was soon to find out that this was only the beginning and not everyone would be as tolerant as her friend. Her schoolmates called her every nasty name in the book and even threatened to beat her up because they thought she was disgusting.
Holly rebelled by ditching school and pretended to be sick to avoid going. She regretted confessing her feelings to everyone. One day as she was leaving the girls bathroom a group of girls were waiting outside and began calling her names. She answered back and one struck her in the face. Being fed up, she reported it to the teacher but received little results. She then turned to the police and told them what happened. Holly is still harassed from time to time by the residents in her town, but her family and the LGBT liaison team she was connected with when she was first attacked are helping her to cope.
LGBT children and teens are no different from other children in that they need love, support and understanding. Parents and teachers should never shun a child who feels lonely and depressed and has problems, regardless of what they are. It is up to adults in the community to make it as safe for children and teens no matter what issues they face.