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New figures on homophobic bullying 'not surprising'

A new study has found that two thirds of young gay men have experienced homophobic bullying in secondary school, while young gay women are more likely to be bullied than their non-gay peers.

BELONGTO, THE GROUP which provides support services to young gay people has said that the results of a study which shows that two thirds of young gay men have experienced homophobic bullying are not surprising.

The research, carried out at the Anti-Bullying Centre in Trinity College Dublin, showed that one third of young gay females also reported having been bullied in secondary school.

The Irish Examiner reports today that 824 fifth-year students across nine schools were surveyed.

Michael Barron, executive director of BeLongTo told TheJournal.ie that figures which show that bullying of young gay woman is more likely to happen were not surprising, and said that while bullying of young gay men get “more airing”, it’s also a huge issue for young women.

Barron said that “the level of harassment that some people can experience can be very upsetting”. He said that the period when young gay people are most vulnerable is the time from when they realise they are gay, to the time when they tell someone.

According to Barron one of the biggest changes that his group has seen is more and more young people coming out as gay or bisexual while they’re still in school, but he said that homophobic bullying is “ever-present”.

The study also found that heterosexual students reported that they had suffered homophobic bullying. Barron said that there is a certain level of tolerance towards homophobic language, and while some teachers are excellent and dealing with it, some can “just give up and not bother tackling it”.

He said that it is urgent that all teachers need to ensure that gay young people are treated equally and that homophobic bullying is taken as seriously as other forms.

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Emer McLysaght

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