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Homophobia is the most likely cause of bullying in secondary schools, report suggests

42 percent of secondary school students agreed that being gay or thought to be gay was the most likely cause of bullying.

By Emily Maskell

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Pexels

Homophobia remains the most prominent form of reported bullying for secondary school students, according to a report by the anti-bullying charity Diversity Role Models.

In its Impact Report published on Tuesday (12 July), 42 percent of secondary students, children aged 11 to 16, surveyed agreed that pupils are most likely to be bullied when they are or are thought to be gay.

The report examined surveys of pupils and teachers at 50 schools and revealed that there is a correlation between areas of diversity that are less regularly discussed in school – LGBTQ+ and disability – and higher levels of bullying.

Elsewhere, the report details that “looking different,” not behaving like a ‘typical boy’ or a ‘typical girl,’ and “reasons specific to girls” are other causes predominantly given as to why pupils are being bullied.

As the report details, “this suggests that the forms of bullying that primary pupils are least able to recognise, later become the most prevalent issues.” 

Both headteachers and teachers consider that addressing diverse identities throughout the curriculum would reduce bullying.

School staff members who also took part in the survey cite that embedding diversity into the school curriculum, where open conversations about the diversity of identity can happen, would reduce bullying. 

Diversity Role Models is working to deliver the government’s ‘Embracing Difference, Ending Bullying’ programme, hoping to readjust facts like LGBTQ+ pupils are almost twice as likely to recognise bullying of LGBTQ+ pupils than heterosexual pupils.

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Matt Garvey, CEO of Diversity Role Models, says: “It’s a shock that some of these bullying statistics are so high. Embedding diversity in curriculum subjects could strengthen inclusive education and reduce bullying for groups such as LGBT+ pupils.”

“There’s no question that schools want to tackle bullying. However, teachers tell us that they lack the confidence to talk about diversity, often for fear of saying the wrong thing,” Garvey continues. 

He adds: “They lack the time to build diversity into their lessons, especially under pressure of post-pandemic catch up, and worry about a lack of support from the wider school community, and parents.

The Attitude July/August issue is out now.