Experiencing hate at school
Our school years help shape us into the people we become.
We learn valuable lessons on how to interact with people, and we form opinions and behaviours that will stay with us for years. This means that often, biphobic, homophobic and transphobic attitudes can begin at school.
Young LGBT or questioning people, who may still be dealing with coming to terms with their sexuality and gender identity, are much more likely to be the victims of hate crime at school, at youth clubs, at home and on the street.
Negative use of the word ‘gay’ is the most common form of homophobia in our schools. Children see and hear it being used in the media, and by their friends.
Biphobia is harder to pin down in this setting but often the use of 'greedy' and a focus on someone either not being able to make their mind up or just being default referred to as 'really gay' or 'really a lesbian'.
Trans issues at school can come up but are often mistaken for young people who aren't conforming to binary gender stereotypes - a 'sissy' boy or a 'butch' girl, or even someone wearing makeup or clothes to identify as a goth or other alternative groups. It's where trans people become brave enough to live their real gender in their public lives that transphobia comes to the fore.
What can be done
It’s essential that teachers and carers identify and stop any biphobic, homophobic and transphobic behaviour they witness before it escalates – no matter how small or insignificant it may appear.
The views of young people, their parents and their carers about hate incidents can be gathered and schools should be actively encouraged to collect information on any hate incident they are made aware of, or are witness too.
By law, schools, colleges and youth clubs HAVE to protect young people from abuse, aggression and harmful or uncomfortable behaviour such as biphobic, homophobic and transphobic bullying. Every school, college and youth club should be a safe and welcoming space for all students.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a letter template that you can send to your school asking them what they are doing to tackle these problems and to ensure they have got a zero tolerance policy on bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity.