Preventing Homophobic Bullying
- Start early - Intervene in homophobic harassment and name-calling when you hear it. Prejudice and hate are learned behaviours. Teach respect and an appreciation for differences at an early age before the seeds of intolerance take root
- Speak out - Confront homophobic bullying, when it is safe to do so, every time you see or hear it. Recognize that your silence indicates your support for the bully’s behaviour. Communicate that homophobic bullying is wrong and not acceptable
- Educate - Educate yourself and others regarding the negative consequences that homophobic bullying has on all children and youth
If you or someone you know is, the victim of homophobic bullying
(Source: Homophobic Bullying, www. b-free.ca)
- Tell someone you trust – Talk to a trusted adult or friend who respects your confidentiality. This may be a teacher, parent, relative, youth worker, counsellor, coach or faith leader. Remember, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Keep telling until someone helps you. No one deserves to be bullied!
- Know your rights – Check out your school’s bullying prevention policies or student code of conduct. Your school has a responsibility to protect you from bullying and abuse. You have the right to be respected and feel safe at your school and in your community, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Stay safe – Don’t fight back. Bullies want attention and fighting back gives them what they want. If you fight back, you may get hurt or make the situation worse. If you are a bystander, go for help and provide moral and emotional support to the person being bullied.
- Write down everything – Keep a record about the incident, including the date, time, location and what was said or done. If you are being bullied online, don’t delete the message. You don’t have to read it, but keep it. It’s your evidence. The police or your school authorities can use this information to help protect you from further abuse.
- Remain calm – You do not have to reveal your sexual orientation or gender identity to seek help. Unless you are at risk for self-harm, your teacher or school counsellor does not have to tell your family or caregiver that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, or queer (LGBTQ). You don’t have to deal with bullying on your own. Caring and trusted adults are available to help and support you.
- Find support in your community – Check to see if there is a local LGBTQ youth group where you can meet like-minded youth. Consider enrolling in a school that has a gay-straight student alliance or diversity club. Often these schools will be welcoming spaces for sexual minority, questioning and allied youth.
What Can You Do if You Are the Victim of Anti-Gay Bullying
(Source: By Ellen Friedrichs, About.com Guide)
Victims of bullying often feel like there is nothing they can do. But having an idea of how to respond to harassment is definitely preferable to feeling as if you are completely powerless. The ideas below come from the Safe Schools Coalition. They may not solve all your bullying problems, but they are definitely a start!
• Speak up and tell the bully to back off, but don’t escalate the situation by calling the offender names or threatening to get physical.
• Defuse the situation, if it seems to be getting physical (“Never mind; let’s forget it.”), and go to a safe place if you can.
• If you think you are going to be physically injured, think about whether you could use your voice and your body to protect yourself by yelling, running away, fighting back, or attracting someone’s attention.
• Sometimes people decide that not resisting is the best way to minimize physical injury or further danger. That’s ok.
• Tell an adult. Maybe there’s an adult at school whom you trust … a particular counsellor or teacher, the nurse, the principal, a school security person, or whomever you trust most. If that doesn’t work, ask their supervisors for help. Go to the school board if necessary.
• Maybe you feel you need to go outside the school for help, to a parent or guardian or a family friend. Whoever seems safest, do tell an adult. As understanding as a friend your own age may be, there are some times when only an adult can provide protection or legal advice or that sort of thing.
• Write down everything that happened (who said and did what, the time and place, and who was involved, including witnesses).
• Know that sexually assaulting somebody or beating somebody up is a crime. In a number of states, so is attacking or threatening a person or damaging their property because of their sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, disabilities, etc. You have the right to report the attack to the police or Child Protective Services.
• In the end, your safety is what matters. Leaving is not the same as failing. Sometimes your only alternative may be transferring to a safer learning environment.
• It isn’t legal to just drop out if you are under the age of sixteen, and you deserve an education! So contact your school district if you need help making arrangements for a safer place to learn, a different school or home-schooling or a GED program.
What Can You Do if You See Someone Else Being Targeted?
Often people see others getting bullied and don’t do anything, either because they are afraid that speaking up will make them a victim or because they just don’t know what to do. But speaking up and calling out bullies and harassers is one of the best ways to stop a bully in his tracks. Other ideas are to interrupt homophobic jokes or comments and let the person making the remark know that they aren’t cool or funny. You should also get help from supportive teachers, or other students. Because, really, wouldn’t you want someone to have your back if you were the victim?