Half the population are bullied ... most only recognize it when they read this
People get bullied and harassed for all sorts of reasons. A commonly reported reason is because you're "different" in some way. And especially if you're gay or lesbian. Or regarded as gay or lesbian, regardless of whether you are or not.
Following research which suggests two-thirds of British adults hold homophobic views, the Terrence Higgins Trust launched a national anti-homophobia campaign in September 1999.
Homophobia starts early. In interviews by the Institute of Education in 1987, around 82% of teachers said they were aware of homophobic bullying in schools, although few schools deal with the issue. Amongst adults, discriminatory views include the belief that gay people should not hold responsible jobs or be allowed to work with children.
Employment law does not protect gay employees who can legally be sacked for being gay.
A survey in 1999 by a Scottish health and safety unit found that over 80 per cent of gay and transsexual people have been victims of verbal abuse, victimisation and assault at work. Most of those surveyed said they had experienced discrimination both from their colleagues and from staff in other organisations. The main culprit organisations were the health service, the police, insurance companies and local authorities. The report for the City of Edinburgh's community safety unit described the 300 respondents as "an extremely fearful and highly victimised group of people".
In a parliamentary inquiry in 2001, Dr David Plummer, Associate Professor at the School of Health at University of New England, reported that attitudes to male homophobia and masculinity began early in life in primary school playgrounds and before children had any understanding of sex. Labels of "faggot" and "poofter" were routinely given to boys whose behaviour was perceived as in any way different from the "norm", although what the "norm" constituted was unclear. Examples included boys who were not considered "tough", who were favoured by teachers, had neat hair, shiny shoes, flamboyant clothes, who used a hair dryer or a different brand of soap. As with all forms of bullying, the reasons appear to be a specious justification for bullies to indulge in premeditated violence for the purpose of gratification. Any behaviour which did not appear to conform to peer group culture was considered fair game by the bullies. The homophobic attribute seemed to be a convenient vehicle for justifying violent behaviour which took place away from teachers' gaze in areas such as school toilets, changing rooms, sports grounds and any secluded area. Dr Plummer felt that because bullying took place in these areas out of sight of teachers, the levels of bullying, and especially homophobic bullying, cited by teachers might be grossly underestimated. (David Plummer, 2001, The quest for modern manhood: masculine stereotypes, peer culture and the social significance of homophobia, Journal of Adolescence, ISSN: 0140-1971, 24(1):15-23)
A largely-unrecognized effect of homophobia is psychiatric injury, including attempted or actual suicide. See the page on stress for details of injury to health caused by bullying, harassment, and discrimination. It's estimated that up to one in five gay people have self-harmed or attempted suicide because of homophobic bullying and abuse.
Bully OnLine is a gold mine of insight and information on bullying which identifies the different types of harassment and bullying, and exposes the main perpetrator, the serial bully. Everyone, whether homosexual or straight, knows at least one person in their life with the profile of the serial bully. Click here to see ...who has this behaviour profile in your life?
Have a look through this web site to recognize the bullies and bullying in your life ... start with Am I being bullied? then move on to What is bullying? To find out what you can do about bullying, click Action to tackle bullying. Have a look at the profile of the serial bully which is common to sociopathic managers, harassers, stalkers, rapists, violent partners, abusers, pedophiles, even serial killers of the organized kind.
If bullying and harassment have caused injury to your health, commonly diagnosed as "stress", see the page on injury to health and the one on the psychiatric injury of trauma, a collection of symptoms congruent with the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
Stonewall at www.stonewall.org.uk
AllGayUK at www.allgayuk.com/
The intercom Trust, a lesbian gay & bisexual support forum in South West England
Silence is not golden - reporting homophobic bullying and abuse
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