In Australia, a new report has shown that bullying targeted at LGBT young people is so severe that nearly one in ten say they were forced to change schools.
According to University of Western Sydney researchers in the Growing Up Queer report, as many as 66% of LGBT young people said they were verbally abused because of their sexuality, while 18% had experienced physical violence.
The shocking statistics come as the Australian Government recently appointed an author who criticised schools for teaching about “decidedly unnatural” gay issues in a positive light to head a national review of education.
The report also showed that 16% of respondents had attempted suicide, while 33% had harmed themselves as a result of bullying.
42% had considered either self-harm or suicide.
Young and Well CRC CEO Associate Professor Jane Burns said: “The findings of this study overwhelmingly highlight the serious impact of homophobia and transphobia.
“This research suggests that LGBTIQ young people are around six times more likely to consider taking their own life than their heterosexual peers, reflecting similar findings in other research in this area.
“While there are a small number of fantastic community organisations providing support and guidance to young people identifying as LGBTIQ, such as Twenty10 incorporating the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service NSW, much more needs to be done by way of education and training so that this dire impact on the mental health and wellbeing of these young people can be eliminated.
“Technology has a huge part to play here: the research shows 85% of young people used the internet to explore their sexual or gender identity on sites like Minus18, Tumblr, Facebook and YouTube, and 78% of young people felt accepted, 66% felt they could find others like themselves, 60% felt safe and 57% could feel proud of their sexuality in that space.”
Lead researcher Professor Kerry Robinson of the University of Western Sydney said: “For many people we spoke to, while peers were most frequently the source of homophobia and transphobia, it was the homophobia and transphobia perpetrated by some teachers that had the most profound impact on their lives.
“This research clearly demonstrates the need for greater community education, training of educators, doctors and health professionals about the health and wellbeing issues facing young Australians who are gender variant and sexuality diverse.”