the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity

Why we need your support

Research conducted by YouGov for Stonewall shows just how widespread and urgent this problem is in our schools:

  • Homophobic bullying is almost epidemic in our schools. 65% of young lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have experienced direct bullying. This rises to 75% in faith schools.

  • Abusive homophobic language is commonplace. 97% of pupils hear insulting remarks such as 'poof', 'dyke' and 'queer'.

  • Teachers say the problem is widespread. 90% of teachers say young people, regardless of their sexual orientation, currently experience homophobic bullying.

  • Teachers are desperately under-equipped to tackle this huge problem. 90% have never received any training on how to prevent or respond to homophobic bullying.

  • For more information about homophobic bullying in schools please see Stonewall's research.

Case studies

Young people who have experienced homophobic bullying tell their stories.


 

Rachael McMurray: Stonewall Youth Volunteer 

10 quick-fire questions with 17-year-old Rachael McMurray. Rachael is a Stonewall Youth Volunteer and runs a campaign in Dorset.

 


Ryan

Ryan’s story 

Ryan, 17, is from Sunderland. Here, he talks about his experience of homophobic bullying, and how things got better for him:


How would you describe your school experience?

School experience was varied but mostly a difficult challenge. There were some happy times but they came from my friends and didn't happen very often as the bullying affected my personality greatly.

You experienced homophobic bullying at school. Can you talk us through what happened to you?

At school I received comments such as being called a paedophile. People said I was a pervert for liking the same gender. I was both verbally and physically abused by my year group over the five years I was at secondary school.

How did this homophobic bullying affect you at the time?
 
At the time it led me to attempt suicide and made me just not want to go to school because I knew I would get picked on from others. I fell into depression and also lost a lot of weight which led to me being too ill to get into school.

Stonewall’s new campaign is called ‘It gets better … today.’ Have things got better for you since you left school?

Since leaving secondary school things have got a lot better for me. I'm now at college and people really don't care about sexuality. It took a long time though and I certainly wouldn't say it was easy but it does get better.

What would be your message of support to young people currently being bullied for being gay, lesbian or bisexual?
 
My message to young LGB people would be that no matter how hard things get, there is always someone to talk to - whether that be at school, at home or even close friends. There is always a way to make things better for yourself and there are many people that can make that happen. It can get much better.


Jess: School life 

Jess, 17, has a gay dad. Here Jess talks about school life...

 


ScottScott’s story 

Scott Oxton, 19, is from The Wirral. Here, he talks about his experience of homophobic bullying, and how things got better:


How would you describe your school experience?

I’d describe it firstly as sad but then in my 2nd school it was better

You experienced homophobic bullying at school. Can you talk us through what happened to you?
 
I was severely bullied in school. It started in primary school when I was unsure of what a gay person was. I knew I was different but didn’t know what it was. The other kids would call me ‘queer’ and ‘faggot.’ It upset me but not much because I didn’t understand.

Then came high school. I knew I was gay and by then I knew what gay was but I was ashamed. Then the comments got worse: ‘aids ridden rat’, ‘dirty’, ‘freak.’ And it didn’t stop at comments. The boys would hit me, kick me, pull my tie so I couldn’t breathe and even throw things and spit at me. I felt awful. I was afraid to tell people about myself and I was thinking of any way possible to get out of school. I even considered self harm and worse. So I left my mainstream school. I was very thin, ashamed of myself, scared of other lads my age and wouldn’t leave the house by myself. I hated what I was and wanted so much to be "normal."

Then I went to a different school. I got my confidence back and grew to love who I am. I started going places alone defending myself and other gay youths that I know and realised being gay isn’t a choice. I finally embraced my sexuality and became proud of it

How did this homophobic bullying affect you at the time?
 
At the time bullying affected me very badly. I refused to talk to anyone. I would walk with my head down. I was very depressed: I would come home and cry. I hated myself.  It got that bad. I was very paranoid when I was out:  I could here people just judging me, but it was all in my head so I hardly left the house. It was a horrible time in my life.

Stonewall’s new campaign is called ‘It gets better … today.’ Have things got better for you since you left school?
 
Things have most certainly got better since school. I am a very out, loud and proud gay man. I do what I can for gay rights, don’t deny who I am and feel happy and care-free for once. Some of the bullies have actually apologised to me.

What would be your message of support to young people currently being bullied for being gay, lesbian or bisexual?
 
 My message  of support would be: it really does get better; I know you will feel low and down but you are unique we are all beautiful and all human. Embrace who you are and let your haters become your motivators and talk about how you feel; never bottle it in. There are people here for you. 


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