Tactics and Behaviours of Bullies
Homophobic bullying may include the following behaviours and actions:
• Malicious name-calling (such as “fag”, “dyke” and “sissy”).
• Obscene and/or sexualized gestures.
• Sexualized teasing, taunting, froshing, or threats.
• Spreading rumours or gossip about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
• Unwanted disclosure of someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
• Physical aggression such as hitting, pushing, kicking, punching, choking and stalking.
• Isolating someone from his or her friends or peer group.
• Using the Internet, instant messaging, and/or social networking sites to intimidate, put down, spread rumours, make fun of, threaten, or exclude someone because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Why does it happen?
The root cause may well be prejudice against gay and lesbian people. Even very young children, who do not understand what homosexuality is, may be encouraged to indulge in homophobic behaviour by this general prejudice.
Individual motivations may be more complicated and, as in the case of other forms of bullying, may include a desire for power or a need for affiliation: some people gain satisfaction from imposing their power on others and a group will be strengthened if someone else is outside that group. Identifying people as being different because of their gender orientation may be a convenient excuse for isolating and persecuting them. The bonds that tie the members of a group together are strengthened because the members are not “different”.
Fear may also be a motivation – as the word “homophobic” suggests. This can be a fear of the unknown, a fear of someone who is perceived to be different, or a fear which is based on uncertainty about the nature of their own developing sexuality:
• “Keep away poofta”.
• “Here he comes, backs to the wall”.
Many adolescent boys say that the worst thing anyone can call you is “gay”. In accusing others of being gay they may seek to demonstrate their own masculinity.