This week, 11-15 November, is Anti-Bullying Week.
It’s an important reminder of the impact that bullying has on so many young people, and an opportunity for all of us to do what we can to tackle it.
For nearly half of all LGBT young people, though, bullying isn’t something they need to be reminded of. It’s a reality – not just one week a year, but every week or even every day.
In 2017 we asked over 3,700 young people about their experiences at school. The results showed that bullying takes many forms – from name-calling, to physical violence, to online abuse. Whatever form it takes, bullying has a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of LGBT young people. In some cases, bullying can start in primary school and continue all the way up to sixth form or college.
It’s also clear that LGBT young people who are disabled, or who receive free school meals, are at greater risk of being bullied and experiencing poor mental health. LGBT young people who are black, Asian and minority ethnic are particularly unlikely to have someone at home they can talk to about being LGBT, while bi and trans young people suffer from a persistent lack of role models at school.
I lost confidence .... I left [school] because I was scared, and I didn’t belong in that environment.
Although we can celebrate the fact that levels of bullying based on sexual orientation decreased in the decade before 2017, they are still shockingly high. And the impact of bullying can continue long after someone leaves school. As 16-year-old George explains: ‘I lost confidence and the power to succeed and get the best qualifications. I left [school] because I was scared, and I didn’t belong in that environment.’
Parents or carers, teachers, friends, family members – all of us can make change happen.
The theme for Anti-Bullying Week 2019 is ‘change starts with us’. Parents or carers, teachers, friends, family members – all of us can make change happen. Here are four ways you can get started:
1. Be visible.
Making it clear that you support your LGBT students can make a huge difference. Be an ally to LGBT people and those who are different. Stonewall has numerous resources to help teachers create an inclusive classroom – from curriculum guides, to posters, best practice resources and lesson plans, all designed according to key stage.
2. Speak up.
Campaigning helped bring about overwhelming cross-party support for new guidance on Relationships and Sex Education in schools. This means that from 2020 all secondary schools in England will have to teach about LGBT people and relationships, and primary schools will teach about ‘different families’, which can include LGBT families. Learning about LGBT people and relationships will help reduce ignorance and bullying and make it easier for young LGBT people to feel valued, supported and represented at school.
This general election, we’re calling on all parties to support LGBT rights, including support for LGBT-inclusive education. Add your name to our petition.
Tell your local school about our School Champions programme. This provides training and resources to help them tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and to make their teaching LGBT-inclusive. If you’re a teacher or school governor, find out how you can sign up.
Donate to help with our life-changing work training teachers, supporting schools and tackling bullying. Give now.