LGBT bullying is any bullying behaviour where someone feels they are targeted for their sexuality and/or gender (whether actual or perceived). It can start from a young age, often as a result of learned behaviours and attitudes, and reinforcement of gender stereotypes. It can include homophobic, biphobic and/or transphobic comments and remarks but is just as likely to include other forms of bullying behaviour such as physical abuse, manipulation, coercion, or social exclusion. It can include experiences of sexual violence and harassment.
LGBT bullying can happen face to face and/or online. Children can experience bullying from other children and/or from adults. While schools must take action to prevent all forms of bullying behaviour, children with protected characteristics (which includes sexuality and gender) have additional protections under the Equality Act 2010.
What to do if your child experiences bullying
The school has a legal duty to prevent all forms of bullying, and under the Equality Act 2010 must prevent all forms of harassment targeting sexuality and gender. For more information see ‘Help with Bullying in School’. In some instances, the bullying behaviour may also constitute a crime and you can contact the police on 101 in a non-emergency, or 999 in an emergency.
If the bullying is online – the majority of social media platforms have an acceptable use policy, and you can report incidents. If the perpetrators are from your child’s school, the school should take action to address their behaviour. In some instances, the bullying behaviour, whether face to face and/or online, may also constitute a crime and you can contact the police on 101 in a non-emergency, or 999 in an emergency.
In the community
The local authority has a duty to keep your child safe from harm. If you are worried about the safety of your child, contact your local children’s services team.
Local LGBT support group
Your child may also benefit from joining a local support group, either in school or the wider community.
Talking about sexuality and gender with children
We have an important role to play in educating and encouraging our children to be inclusive of others and to embrace difference. When they are young this includes making sure that the books and magazines they read, the films and television they watch, and the toys that they play with are inclusive and represent different types of families. As they grow older it’s important, we challenge any discriminatory attitudes and encourage our children to listen and learn from others. It’s also important that we start by educating ourselves, that we understand the history of our country including how we have treated LGBT+ people in the past, and that we connect with people from a range of different backgrounds, listening, learning, and growing as allies.
Additional information and support