Protect Queer Youth

Queer Gen Z kids are still facing widespread bullying and harassment in schools

While Gen Z contains the highest percentage of out-LGBTQ+ people, life is far from a progressive paradise for this age group. Nearly half of LGBTQ+ Gen Z students in the UK are still experiencing queerphobic bullying in schools, some of which comes from teachers and administrators, a new survey reports.

The survey comes from Theirworld, an international children’s education charity, and global research firm YouGov, which polled 545 LGBTQ+ youth ages 16 to 24 in the UK. 47% of respondents said they have experienced bullying from their peers over their sexual orientation, 25% for their gender identity.

This bullying included verbal abuse (73%), harassment (53%), online abuse (31%), threats of violence (24%), purposeful misgendering (19%), physical abuse (16%) and sexual abuse (15%).

“When I came out as a lesbian in 2013, I had a brick thrown at my face and screamed at that I was a fagg*t,” one survey respondent said. “I was ostracized by my female peers and refused to get changed for PE with them as they would all hide. I am not publicly out as nonbinary.”

“I was added to a group chat of students where I was outed to the full year group and subsequently bullied, called slurs and names daily,” recalled another respondent. “Most teachers ignored the bullying especially if it was in their classroom. They would mock my gender and discuss my identity with other students in a negative way.”

Such negative responses from school staff represented a sobering trend in the data. Of those students who experienced anti-LGBTQ+ bullying, nearly half never reported it at all. 18% reported it once and 30% reported it multiple times. Of those who reported their experiences, 72% said that school staff responded badly.

In the end, more than 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ respondents said they do not view schools as safe for them. “All young people deserve a safe place to learn, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Theirworld president Justin van Fleet. “However, LGBTQ+ youth face higher rates of bullying and discrimination than their peers in schools around the world.”

In response to the growing rate of bullying among LGBTQ+ youth, Theirworld has launched a global taskforce to provide increased advocacy. Van Fleet explained, “The task force will focus on issues of safe campaigning in challenging contexts and allow LGBTQ+ youth leaders and their allies to have a powerful platform and network to advocate for more inclusive education policies in communities around the world.”

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