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Comprehensive anti-discrimination bill pushed in Congress, eyed to also benefit LGBTQIA Filipinos

Sen. Sonny Angara assured that members of the LGBTQIA community will still benefit in the passage of a more comprehensive anti-discrimination law. This following Pres. Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressing his intent to expedite the passage of the same, rather than the SOGIE Equality Bill.

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All photos taken during Metro Manila's Pride parade in 2018

Pushing for a more comprehensive anti-discrimination law.

Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara assured that members of the LGBTQIA community will still benefit in the passage of a more comprehensive anti-discrimination law. This following Pres. Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressing his intent to expedite the passage of an anti-discrimination bill (ADB), rather than the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill.

In July, Angara filed Senate Bill (SB) 137, which seeks to prohibit discrimination based on age, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief or activity, political inclination or conviction, social class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, marital or relationship status, disability, HIV status, health status or medical history, language, physical features, or other status.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rosa Hontiveros is the sponsor of SB 159, the SOGIE Equality Bill that – as the bill’s name stresses – is more focused on SOGIE-related discrimination. This has been erroneously seen to solely benefit only members of the LGBTQIA community, even if everyone – including heterosexual-identifying people – also have SOGIE.

According to Angara, his proposed comprehensive anti-discrimination bill (CADB) is “still a step in the right direction. This bill has better chance of passing because it’s more comprehensive.”

For Angara, the SOGIE Equality Bill is more concentrated on a gender-based discrimination, whereas his version also talks about “religion, belief, ethnicity, appearance and many other issues.”

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Angara’s bill lists 13 “acts of discrimination”. Protected attributes under the proposed bill includes age, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief, political inclination or conviction, social class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, marital or relationship status, disability, HIV status, health status or medical history, language, physical features or other status.

The inclusion of SOGIE had to be highlighted, and even with the inclusion of other minority sectors, because there are fears that this will eventually be removed by those opposing the promotion of equal rights for every Filipino.

In July, when the bill was filed, Angara noted that “discrimination, in any shape or form, has no place in Philippine society.” And while the Philippines has come a long way in terms of being an open and equitable society, “there is still a lot more to be done to totally eliminate all forms of discrimination in the country.”

“Discrimination remains a problem be it for women, children, persons with disabilities or the LGBTQ community. We are currently enjoying remarkable economic growth, but while there is still discrimination taking place, we cannot call ourselves a truly progressive nation,” Angara said at that time.

He added: “Araw araw marami sa ating kababayan ang nakakaranas ng ibat ibang uri ng pang-aapi. Karaniwan ang mga nagaganap na diskriminasyon ay inaakalang normal o katanggap tanggap ng mga taong gumagawa nito… Nais nating maintindihan ng lahat kung anong mga gawain, salita o polisiya na maituturing na diskriminasyon o pang-aapi sa kapwa.

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The bill prescribes a penalty of one to six years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to P500,000 for any person found to have committed acts of discrimination.

“Discrimination is a problem that is not confined to a few people alone. It concerns everyone. No one should feel helpless when faced with discrimination. We appeal to our colleagues to support this bill,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, in the Lower House, Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera, the author of an anti-discrimination bill in the House of Representatives, said that she “welcomed” the approach of Angara in including SOGIE-related discrimination as part of the CADB.

Herrera, however, expressed concerns over differing provisions in the anti-discrimination bills proposed in the Lower and Upper Houses.

For instance, there are some prohibited acts of discrimination listed on the House bill that are not included in the Senate bill. Also, while the House bill eyes for all law enforcers to enforce non-discrimination (including the police and other stakeholders), the Senate version identified the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the sole government body enforcer.

“What is important to us in the House is that all marginalized sectors and persons who are being discriminated against – including the LGBTQI+ – are given equal protection of, due process, access, and welfare under all our laws,” she said.

SB 137 has yet to be taken up in the committee level. It was already referred to the Senate committee on cultural communities, which is helmed by Sen. Imee Marcos.

Aaron Bonette is a batang beki - a "cisgender gay man, if you will", he says. He established EU Bahaghari in Enverga University in Lucena, where he was one of the leaders to mainstream discussions of LGBT issues particularly among the youth. He is currently helping out LGBT community organizing, believing that it is when we work together that we are strongest ("Call me idealistic, I don't care!" he says). He writes for Outrage Magazine to provide the youth perspective - meaning, he tries to be serious even as he tries to "party, party, party", befitting his newbie status.

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Inequality is bad for society, economic prosperity good

A cross-national study shows the influence of income inequality and affluence on the amount of health and social problems in rich countries.

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Photo by Oliver Cole from Unsplash.com

While economic inequality is associated with more social ills, economic prosperity dampens them.

This is the the result of a study conducted by a team of sociologists at the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg (OvGU) in Germany. Prof. Jan Delhey and Leonie Steckermeier (MA) investigated 40 high-income countries from all world regions to try to ascertain whether income inequality and national prosperity can help expound why some countries are more problem-ridden than others.

They found that rich countries vary a lot when it comes to health and social problems. A comparison of social ills ranging from intentional homicides to obesity rates in 40 rich societies shows that Asian and European countries fare much better than Anglophone and Latin American countries. The most problem-ridden countries are Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and the US. The positive end of the list is headed by Japan, South Korea and Singapore, followed by Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Germany ranks 15th just behind Austria.

In a cross-national comparison, countries with a bigger income gap between rich and poor indeed have more social ills. Inequality is bad for society as it goes along with weaker social bonds between people, which in turn makes health and social problems more likely. At the same time, richer countries have less social ills. Economic prosperity goes along with stronger social bonds in society and thereby makes health and social problem less likely.

“This is the main reason behind the geographic pattern we found, with social ills being more widespread in the Americas and the Anglophone New World countries, and less widespread in European and particularly Asian countries,” said Delhey.

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It is worth noting that members of the LGBTQIA community are more likely than their peers to live in poverty. In 2018, for instance, a study showed how indicators of economic disparity including food insecurity, housing instability, low-wage earning potential and unemployment and under-employment are all heightened for LGBTQIA communities.

The good news is that in most countries social ills improved somewhat between 2000 und 2015, although it is difficult to pin down why. In Europe at least, rising prosperity seems to have led to better societies with less social ills, but for the non-European countries is remains unclear why levels of social ills changed.

“This shows that other factors beyond income inequality and economic prosperity play a role in the development of social ills, too. Still, our results prompt scholars as well as the public to re-think the widespread negative image of contemporary society. In many countries, there is small progress towards a better society with less social ills,” added Leonie Steckermeier, co-author of the study.

The empirical analysis was based on a set of six social ills, namely low life expectancy, infant mortality, and obesity as health issues, and intentional homicides, teenage pregnancy, and imprisonment rate as social problems. The data were compiled from international sources such as the World Bank and the World Health Organization for the years from 2000 to 2015. The structure of the compiled dataset allows to compare health and social problems between countries and across time. The research was carried out as part of the project “Inequality, Status Anxiety and Social Ills” at the Chair for Macrosociology at the OvGU and funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG).

Inequality is bad for society as it goes along with weaker social bonds between people, which in turn makes health and social problems more likely.
Photo by Matteo Paganelli from Unsplash.com

The study, ‘Social Ills in Rich Countries: New Evidence on Levels, Causes, and Mediators’, has been published in the international social science journal Social Indicators Research (SIR).

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Women-only business groups marginalize and fail to empower members

Women-only business networks fail to boost female entrepreneurship and instead serve to marginalize further the very people they seek to help, according to a study.

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Women-only business networks fail to boost female entrepreneurship and instead serve to marginalize further the very people they seek to help.

New research from the University of Edinburgh Business School, Lancaster University Management School and Dublin City University Business School, published in the Journal of Economic Geography, found the networks are unable to overcome bigger societal issues that prevent more women from pursuing their own businesses.

Policy makers see the drive to increase female entrepreneurship as key to helping foster national and regional economic growth. However, women lag behind men in terms of business ownership, growth and access to resources.

The research, carried out in Northern Ireland, a region where female entrepreneurship is low in comparison to the rest of the UK, looked at efforts by regional development agency Invest NI to address the issues.

Regional economic policy has focused on stimulating and supporting women’s entrepreneurship through the establishment of formal women-only networks to provide support, role models and access to networks.

The researchers spoke with members and managers of women-only business networks, which have been at the heart of policies in Northern Ireland for nearly two decades, as well as members of mixed networks, and of both.

Policy-makers justify the promotion of women-only networks as providing network opportunities to support women’s entrepreneurship and, as a result, boost the economy, but the research, supported by British Academy funding, shows a disconnect between intent and actual impact, as the networks perpetuate women’s marginalization and place them in a niche rather them empowering and encouraging them.

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“Entrepreneurship policies targeted at women are contributing little or nothing to their equality, well-being or independence,” said co-author Professor Richard Harrison, of the University of Edinburgh. “The outcomes of policy are often limited or contrary to intentions.

“Entrepreneurship is shaped for men, and successful entrepreneurs are male. Women are only deemed successful if they launch businesses in the ‘right’ (male-dominated) industries and match male-owned businesses for growth. Thus, women-only networks perpetuate the masculinity of entrepreneurship, by reinforcing women as being in the margins.”

The research shows policy design ignores inherent structural issues within society and entrepreneurship, where there is still a clear and continuing division of labour between ‘men’s work’ and ‘women’s work’.

The researchers found that there is a lack of knowledge and information around the sectors women entrepreneurs tend to predominate in. This leads to a shortfall in well-connected and credible contacts and role models to provide information or introductions to suppliers or gatekeepers.

The networks tend to be more geographically restricted and focus more on social support over business development, failing to provide a platform to address issues of gender inequality in entrepreneurship.

The interviews revealed a perception among the network members of having to battle against a male-dominated society, where they had to overcome stereotypes of women as mothers or homemakers, which can affect entrepreneurship being seen as a viable option.

“Strategies and policies focus on addressing failings or limitations unique to women, rather than on systemic, industry or institutional issues, perceiving a deficiency of perceived female underperformance,” said co-author Professor Maura McAdam, of Dublin City University.

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“By treating women differently to men, treating them a problem that needs to be fixed, and by creating women-only targeted initiatives, women continue to be marginalised. Many business structures are shaped for men, with women restricted in their entrepreneurial ambitions in the lower echelons of the retails and service sector, often referred to as ‘pink ghettos’.

“The network managers saw themselves as empowering women, but this was not a sentiment shared by the women entrepreneurs, with the networks instead tending to reaffirm women’s secondary place in society and business. The members found it difficult to see themselves as entrepreneurs, undermining their ability and underselling themselves.”

The researchers say more needs to be done to combat wider issues around male dominance if female entrepreneurship is to grow.

“Women-only networks have not empowered women entrepreneurs,” said co-author Professor Claire Leitch, of Lancaster University. “They do not have the power to overcome issues of male dominance in the area, and it is not a given that other policies would have that ability to achieve the goals of increasing women’s entrepreneurial activity, well-being and financial independence either.

“Supporting women-only networks merely pays lip service to women’s unequal position and power without addressing the structural issues and inequalities at the heart of the issue. These networks reinforce the masculinity of entrepreneurship and, unfortunately, there is no quick fix for policy design in this area.

“All parties need to identify, address and eliminate the various means by which cultural bias is perpetuated, restructuring the ways social institutions are conceived. If women’s entrepreneurship continues to be seen as a gendered niche, aspirations for its impact will never be met.”

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Clubs and bars must support women by cracking down on sexual aggression

Women practicing ‘feisty femininity’ overtly resist unwanted encounters and this approach can arguably play a role in ending gendered violence. However, such responses may expose women to risks and place the labour of managing unwanted incidents onto women directly.

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Nightclubs and bars must create a supportive environment that cracks down on unwanted sexual attention and allows women to enjoy their nights out, according to a new study.

Increasing numbers of women are prepared to speak back to sexual harassment while enjoying a night out with female friends by confronting the men responsible and telling them clearly and robustly that their behavior is unacceptable.

But researchers say that such a response – which they dub ‘feisty femininity’ – is complex and can result in backlash. It, therefore, needs businesses within the Night Time Economy to take seriously unwanted encounters in order to foster safer venues and help to end gendered violence.

Researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Liverpool worked with colleagues at Liverpool John Moores University to explore women’s navigation of unwanted sexual attention when in bars and nightclubs. “Unwanted Sexual Attention in the Night-Time Economy: Behaviors, Safety Strategies, and Conceptualizing ‘Feisty Femininity'” by Clare Gunby , Anna Carline, Stuart Taylor and Helena Gosling is published in Feminist Criminology.

They conducted focus groups with young women in Liverpool and discovered two broad forms for unwanted sexual attention when women went out: ‘the pick-up routine’, which men used to start sexual encounters; and ‘showing off for the lads’, where males engaged in undermining and abusive interactions with women for the purpose of impressing their male friends.

Encountering ‘the pick-up routine’ tended to prompt the use of ‘diplomatic’ rejection responses, which were carefully constructed in order to manage a potentially aggressive reaction. In contrast, ‘showing off for the lads’ approaches were more likely to spark a robust ‘feisty’ rebuttal from the targeted woman.

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Article author Dr. Clare Gunby, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research, commented: “Young people, globally, are starting to demand accountability for sexist structures and norms, partly due to the re-emergence of feminism and activism on University campuses and beyond.

“Women practicing ‘feisty femininity’ overtly resist unwanted encounters and this approach can arguably play a role in ending gendered violence. However, such responses may expose women to risks and place the labour of managing unwanted incidents onto women directly.

“Indeed, our participants felt that staff in nightclubs and bars did not take their concerns around safety seriously. Hence, women’s informal strategies for dealing with unwanted attention become especially important because more formal lines of recourse often remain unavailable.

“Venues must, therefore, play a key role in creating a safe environment that makes it clear that unwanted sexual aggression will not be tolerated. There must be a multipronged approach across the Night Time Economy to addressing sexual violence.”

The study sheds light on women’s navigation of unwanted sexual attention when in bars and nightclubs – about which little is known, especially in the UK context. In addition to ‘feisty femininity’, the researchers found that women had developed three other risk management solutions:

  • ‘Emotion management’ – offering a tactful and diplomatic explanation for their lack of interest (in order to mitigate negative reactions when rejecting men).
  • ‘Men as protector’ – specifically going out with male friends or using a boyfriend (actual and mythical) to reduce the likelihood of an unwanted encounter.
  • ‘From individualism to camaraderie among the girls’ – cutting an evening short, moving to another venue, laughing off unwanted attention or stepping in to stop men from exploiting drunken friends and strangers.
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“There was a shared reticence to report unwanted incidents to venue staff or police as women felt that any report would be shrugged off and that no one would care due to the perceived normality of such practices when out in bars and nightclubs,” Dr. Gunby notes.

“The lack of formal sanction for such behaviors could arguably play a role in their maintenance, prompting women to fill this gap by taking it upon themselves to monitor friends and strangers.”

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Violence and adversity in early life can alter the brain

People exposed to childhood adversity may also be more likely to have brain changes in adolescence that indicate an altered response to threat, according to a new study.

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Childhood adversity is a significant problem, particularly for children growing up in poverty. Those who experience poverty have a much higher risk of being exposed to violence and suffering from a lack of social support, which can have long-term consequences including higher rates of diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.

People exposed to childhood adversity may also be more likely to have brain changes in adolescence that indicate an altered response to threat, according to a new study by University of Michigan’s Christopher Monk and Leigh Goetschius, and others. However, social supports may act as a buffer and reduce the negative effects of early-life stress.

The researchers analyzed data collected from 177 youth aged 15-17 who had taken part in an American study that had collected data since the participants since birth. Around 70 percent of the participants studied were African-American and almost half lived below the poverty line.

The researchers scanned the brains of the participants with MRI, focusing on the white matter connectivity between several key areas: the amygdala, which is known to play a role in fear and emotion-processing, and specific regions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Earlier work by this research team established that reduced connectivity between the two brain regions is linked to a heightened response to threats by the amygdala.

The scans suggest a link between violence exposure and social deprivation in childhood. When the children in the study experienced more violence (abuse, exposure to intimate partner violence, or neighborhood violence) and social deprivation (child neglect, lack of neighborhood cohesion, and a lack of maternal support), the researchers observed reduced connectivity between the amygdala and the PFC in adolescence.

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Neither variable was on its own linked to brain changes. When a child experienced violence but also had social support, the reduced connectivity wasn’t evident. The same was true when a child experienced social deprivation but no violence. “The implication is that social deprivation may exacerbate the effects of childhood violence exposure when it comes to these white matter connections. Social support, on the other hand, may act as a buffer,” says Monk.

The researchers were surprised to find no link between brain changes and mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. But because mental health issues often arise during the transition from adolescence to one’s 20s, they plan to follow up with the study participants to track mental health and determine whether the associations between violence exposure, social deprivation, and brain changes persist.

It is worth noting that LGBTQIA people are more likely than their peers to live in poverty, according to a 2018 report that showed how indicators of economic disparity including food insecurity, housing instability, low-wage earning potential and unemployment and under-employment are all heightened for LGBTQIA communities.

Specifically, the report found that 25% of LGBTQIA people experienced a period over the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family, compared to 18% of non-LGBTQIA people.

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Only 35.6% of women, 23.2% of men say trans athletes should participate in sports aligned with their gender identity

Also, the study shows people who have contact with transgender, gay and lesbian people as well as those with stronger egalitarian attitudes are more favorable toward transgender participation, whereas those with high moral traditionalism are more opposed.

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In the US, as several states draft legislation that would force student-athletes to play as their gender identified on their birth certificate instead of on a team that matches their gender identity, a team of political scientists investigated underlying factors that drive public opinion on transgender athletes.

The new study shows while women in general are more supportive than men of transgender athletes participating in sports by gender identity instead of biological sex, women who are sports fans are more likely to oppose it, holding views that resemble male sports fans.

The research recently published in the journal Sex Roles investigated public attitudes toward the participation of transgender people in sports by using data from a 2015 survey of 1,020 adults across the U.S.; the data was previously used by the same researchers to analyze public opinion on a variety of transgender rights issues.

Dr. Jami Taylor, professor of political science and public administration at The University of Toledo who focuses on transgender politics and policy, is part of the team who found that attitudes about transgender athletes are strongly shaped by an individual’s characteristics, political values and personality traits.

Also, the study shows people who have contact with transgender, gay and lesbian people as well as those with stronger egalitarian attitudes are more favorable toward transgender participation, whereas those with high moral traditionalism are more opposed.

“This is a very complicated area, and there are legitimate concerns about fairness for both transgender athletes and those who are not transgender,” said Taylor, author of the 2017 book “The Remarkable Rise of Transgender Rights.” “We need to have thoughtful policies that ensure fair competitions but also ensure that transgender athletes aren’t discriminated against. As governments, nonprofits and businesses begin to craft policies that decide how and with whom transgender athletes will compete in sports, they need to avoid one-size-fits-all solutions because of the complexity of the issues.”

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“Given the gendered nature of sports and the resistance to the issue among sports fans – both male and female – policymakers will likely need to tread carefully and should have a care in this area as they craft policy solutions. Our work might be helpful to inform policymakers, as well as advocates who promote inclusion.”

Research contributors include Taylor; Dr. Andrew Flores, assistant professor in the Department of Government at American University and lead author of the study; Dr. Donald Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas; Dr. Daniel Lewis, associate professor of political science at Siena College; Dr. Patrick Miller, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas; and Dr. Barry Tadlock, professor of political science at Ohio University.

Current policy depends on the position of governing bodies, such as the NCAA at the collegiate level, and applicable laws that may vary by location. For instance, California law requires that transgender students be treated according to their gender identity, not biological sex.

The issue, according to lawmakers proposing new legislation in New Hampshire, Washington, Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri, is whether transgender-rights protections are leading to unfair competition in women’s sports, referencing male-to-female transgender students and arguing they have natural physical advantages over biological females.

However, the study cited a female-to-male case: Mack Beggs’ victory in the Texas Class 6A girls’ state wrestling championship in 2017, even though the female-to-male transgender student started his transition two years prior and took testosterone injections.

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“It was a ridiculous situation. He wanted to wrestle with the boys and received harsh treatment from fans when he was forced to compete with girls,” Taylor said. “Due to his success, parents accused him of cheating, but the rule in Texas was he had to compete according to the gender on his birth certificate, which was a girl. If he was in California, he would’ve competed against boys.”

The study finds that 35.6% of women agreed with allowing transgender athletes to participate in sports aligned with their gender identity, compared to 23.2% of men.

As the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo approach, Taylor calls the Olympics reasonably inclusive to transgender athletes and commends the International Olympic Committee for its attention to both human rights and fair competition.

“The International Olympic Committee no longer requires transgender athletes to have had surgery, but there is a strict requirement around hormonal management,” Taylor said. “It’s far less restrictive for female-to-male athletes than for male-to-female athletes, which seems to be a reasonable attempt to grapple with this complex issue. Importantly, the IOC’s approach looks at evidence in this evolving area.”

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Boys who are bullied online may have more risky sex

Adolescent boys who are cyber bullied pursue risky sexual behaviors more frequently than girls who are cyber bullied. Results may reflect a culture of toxic masculinity and highlight the need to pay special attention to male victims, who may be reluctant to self-identify, and therefore, at greater risk of negative health outcomes.

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Peer victimization is associated with adverse psychological and behavioral problems, including depression and risky health behaviors such as substance use and unprotected sex with multiple partners. This is according to a A collaboration of researchers at Louisiana State University, University of Missouri, and University of Tennessee in the US.

The study, “Peer victimization, depression and sexual risk behaviors among high school youth in the United States: a gender-based approach“, by Youn Kyoung Kim, Mansoo Yu, Courtney Cronley and Miyoun Yang has been published in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health. The authors examined gender differences in the relationships between four types of peer victimization (school bullying, cyber bullying, physical dating violence, and sexual dating violence), depression, and risky sexual behaviors among US high school students.

In 2015, approximately one-third of high school students in the US alone reported having sex recently. Of these, 43% had not used a condom, 21% had drunk alcohol or used drugs before sexual intercourse, and 14% had not used any contraception.

Recent research suggests that adolescent boys who are cyber bullied pursue risky sexual behaviors more frequently than girls who are cyber bullied. Results may reflect a culture of toxic masculinity and highlight the need to pay special attention to male victims, who may be reluctant to self-identify, and therefore, at greater risk of negative health outcomes.

For this newer study, the researchers analyzed the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior System Survey, a nationally representative survey of US high school students containing data from 5,288 individuals who reported having engaged in sexual intercourse. The results show that all types of peer victimization are related to symptoms of depression for both females and males, and physical and sexual dating violence are associated with increased risky sexual behaviors. However, school bullying does not predict risky sexual behaviors. Among males, cyber bullying predicts increased risky sexual behaviors and the relationship is greater when a boy is depressed.

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Bullying is, of course, a big issue for members of the LGBTQIA community.

In April 2018, for instance, a study that investigated gender expression and victimization of youth aged 13-18 found that the most gender nonconforming students reported higher levels of being bullied, were more likely to report missing school because they feel unsafe, and are most likely to report being victimized with a weapon on school property.

The effects of bullying are also long-term. In November 2018, another study found that 35.2% of gay/bisexual men who had experienced frequent school-age bullying experience frequent workplace bullying. Among lesbian women, the figure was 29%.

“It is critical to create safe and private spaces for boys to share their experiences, and we hope that this research will encourage schools to consider efforts to destigmatize victimization through peer mentorship and open communication,” said Youn Kyoung Kim.

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