What is homophobia?
The word homophobia comes from the
Greek 'homo' (meaning 'same') and 'phobia' (meaning 'fear'). It is used
to describe a fear or a negative attitude towards gay people.
can take many forms including insults, discrimination or more extreme
levels of intimidation and even violence.
With 2 out of 5 victims of homophobic bullying attempting or contemplating suicide this is a very serious issue.
Homophobia can be subtle. You may feel you're being
ignored or treated with less respect than your peers. It can also be
It's a sad truth but if you're gay, you may
encounter homophobia at some point. Being picked on for your sexuality
can be upsetting and embarrassing but remember you're not the problem,
It may be comforting to know that the majority of homophobes act out of ignorance and fear. Often it's a question of immaturity.
Like bullies, homophobes get satisfaction and power from putting others down.
You could try taking the wind out of their sails by refusing to rise to the insult, e.g. "Yes, I'm gay. So what?"
with bullying, you shouldn't suffer in silence. Secrecy is likely to
empower them in their mistaken belief that being gay is something to
keep quiet about.
Seek out support from anyone you trust and let
them know what's going on. They may be able to intervene or just help
you feel supported.
It's not always as easy to ignore or laugh off verbal insults as some might suggest. But do try.
If you act with confidence the average homophobic bully will get bored of trying to annoy you and give up.
Parents and carers can play an important role in tackling homophobic bullying, says Stonewall’s Chris Gibbons. He suggests:
Sue Allen of FFLAG advises
that you check that the school has a separate anti-homophobic bullying
policy and not something tacked on to their general bullying policy. Ask
to see it, and if they haven’t got one, ask why not and insist this is
Go into the school and challenge them. They have a duty of
care to all children. Research shows that in schools where children are
explicitly taught that homophobic bullying is wrong, rates of such
bullying are dramatically reduced, and pupils feel safer.
Encourage your child to take up judo or another form of self-defence. This will boost their confidence that they can defend themselves if necessary.