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‘Gay’ insults blamed for rising number of boys calling ChildLine

Jessica Geen July 27, 2009
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The number of boys calling ChildLine with worries about their sexuality has more than trebled in the last five years, with many concerned about coming out.

In 2007/08, 3,510 calls from boys (six per cent) were about their sexuality, compared with only one per cent of calls from girls.

Although the total number of boys calling the line has doubled, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) says calls about sexuality have still risen proportionately to more than three times the amount five years ago.

Sexuality is now the sixth biggest reason for boys to call the charity and the NSPCC believes this is linked to the use of ‘gay’ as a playground insult.

Over half of the boys who were concerned about their sexuality were in the 16-18 age group compared with only 27 per cent of the total number of male callers being in this age group overall.

A particular worry was how to deal with losing friends after coming out.

One 16-year-old boy said: “I’ve just come out to my friends as gay. I’ve been treated really badly since. I’m just so depressed and low, sometimes I just feel worthless really.”

Another 15-year-old boy told ChildLine: “I have been hiding the fact that I am gay for ages. I started telling people and I have lost lots of friends.”

Callers also raised concerns about their parents’ reactions and loneliness.

A 14-year-old caller said: “I’m not sure if I’m gay or straight or bisexual. I’m worried about my parents’ reactions if I tell them about my sexuality. I’m worried what others might think of me.”

An NSPCC spokesman told “Unfortunately, many children and young people use the word ‘gay’ as an insult. This makes it extremely difficult for a boy to be confident about his own sexuality, and it is therefore not surprising that sexuality is the sixth-largest reason for boys calling ChildLine.”

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