New research carried out by the University of Cambridge for Stonewall Scotland’s School Report Scotland 2012 has found that 52 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in Scottish secondary schools experience homophobic bullying.
The findings are specific to the 158 lesbian, gay and bisexual young Scots who took part in a national survey of 1,614 young people.
The research also found that a quarter (26 per cent) of gay young Scots have attempted to take their own life, and more than half (54 per cent) deliberately harm themselves.
The School Report Scotland 2012 reveals that almost all gay young people (99 per cent) hear homophobic language – like ‘That’s so gay’ and ‘You’re so gay’, while 97 per cent of gay pupils hear other insulting homophobic remarks, such as ‘poof’ or ‘lezza’.
Glen, a seventeen year old secondary school student in Scotland was quoted in the research stating: ‘Every day of my secondary school experience I have had some sort of verbal abuse because of my sexuality.’
Less than a third (31 per cent) of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils say their school responds quickly to homophobic bullying behaviour when it occurs and less than three in five (57 per cent) lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in Scotland report that their schools say homophobic bullying is wrong.
Leah, a 16 year old secondary school student, provides an illustration of the violent bullying young gays and lesbians Scots face: ‘I was walking along the street one day with my friend. A boy came at me shouting abuse. He pulled out a knife and was getting everyone to encourage him to hurt me.
‘Luckily I had a friend with me and she pushed him away and we both got away physically safe, but mentally very scarred. Following that, the boys on the way to and from school threw things at me, threatened me, and tried to set fire to the school bus seat I was sitting on. It’s still going on.’
The research also shows that despite the repeal of Section 28 in Scotland over twelve years ago, many schools do not inform or teach about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues; almost half (48 per cent) of LGBT pupils in Scotland are never taught anything about this subject.
Stonewall Scotland Director, Colin Macfarlane stated: ‘The mark of a society is how it treats its young people and so it’s unacceptable that over half of gay young Scots face a daily nightmare of homophobic bullying, and deeply worrying that many schools and teachers still fail to challenge it effectively.
‘At a time when policy makers look for ways to boost attainment and raise aspiration it is deeply disturbing that half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young Scots say they don’t feel that they are achieving their best at school.
‘We won’t rest until every single gay young person in this country can walk through their school gates every morning without fear of being bullied just because of the way they were born.’