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LGBT school pupils are more likely to be bullied by teachers – study

Sexual and gender minority (SGM) adolescents are more likely to become victims of bullying and harassment than heterosexual, cisgender adolescents, but little is known about the contextual details of these victimization experiences.

Photo by Mwesigwa Joel from Unsplash.com

Around a quarter of LGBT school pupils who face bullying at school are actually harassed by teachers and other school staff rather than their classmates.

This is according to a research – “Disparities in Perpetrators, Locations, and Reports of Victimization for Sexual and Gender Minority Adolescents” by Tessa M.L. Kaufman, Ph.D. and Laura Baams, Ph.D. – that appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“Sexual and gender minority (SGM) adolescents are more likely to become victims of bullying and harassment than heterosexual, cisgender adolescents, but little is known about the contextual details of these victimization experiences,” the researchers noted.

So they used a survey involving 29,879 students (mean age = 14.1) from 136 Dutch middle/high schools across grades 7–12 (14.5% sexual minority, 2.7% gender minority); they were asked to complete a survey about their school-based experiences.

The research specifically found that:

  • 13% of children who described themselves as heterosexual were bullied, but that rose to between 25% and 33% among LGBT children
  • 14% of heterosexual children said they were bullied by teachers, compared with 24% of LGBT children
  • LGBT students are less comfortable than their straight peers with reporting incidents to their parents or teachers
  • They are more likely to tell the police or the school janitor

“Strikingly, our findings point to a group of perpetrators — teachers and other adults — that is often not included or targeted in (preventive) intervention strategies, but that has the responsibility to provide support and a safe school climate for all students,” the researchers stated.

They added that “while troubling on its own, teachers’ behaviors also send a message to adolescents that such behaviors are acceptable in the school, which then limit the effects of peer interventions or inclusive curricula. These adults may hold more prejudice, or they might simply be unaware of the impact of their behaviors on SGM adolescents.”

The researchers recommended “changing school policies to focus on increasing the safety of not only the public but also more private areas, and on providing adolescents with information about supportive and potentially anonymous resources or school personnel, which can help to improve the health of all adolescents.”

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