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Bullying for homophobia: its harmful effects on society and education

Bullying for homophobia: its harmful effects on society and education

June 12, 2024

Relationships between classmates, which at first is (according to adolescents) one of the most rewarding aspects of the school context and one of the main sources of emotional and social support, can end up being a very harmful and painful element for young people.

In the scientific literature led by Olweus, it can be seen that victims of bullying usually have a series of individual risk factors that differentiate them from aggressors (eg, gender, school year, ethnicity, religious preferences, socioeconomic status, deficient social skills, "superior" social skills, reduced academic achievement, etc.).

Unfortunately, one of the elements that triggers the attention of the aggressors is usually sexual orientation (or the doubts about it) of the victimized adolescents, to what we will call "bullying for homophobia".

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What is bullying for homophobia?

We will define bullying for homophobia as any kind of physical, social, or verbal abuse directed and directed with the intention of generating discomfort in the victim due to his sexual orientation . There is an imbalance of power between the aggressor and the victim, and the abuse is usually prolonged over time.

It is considered that the responsibility for this phenomenon lies not only with the aggressor, but with the educational institutions and with society as a whole, due to the dominant social values ​​in relation to sexuality in general. That is, even today, our society interprets heterosexuality in terms of "normality", while Homosexuality (and bisexuality) is interpreted as "abnormal, weird, strange, eccentric " In this way, all those manifestations different from the heterosexual are branded as deviant and abnormal.

We would be naive if we believed that this prevailing thought in society is not absorbed by children and adolescents, who reproduce these social standards in their particular environment: schools and institutes. Everything that is considered "out of the ordinary" or "common" within the school context, is often the object of ridicule or mockery, and as we have explained previously, sexual orientation is one of the reasons that "trigger" aggressions towards the victims.

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Consequences of this type of aggressions

LGBT people and / or those who doubt about their affective-sexual orientation configure a population susceptible to suffer more mental health problems than the rest. Why? Very simple: this population he tends to suffer a higher level of stress throughout most of his life .

Think about the things you have to face: integrate and accept your affective-sexual orientation, talk with your family and friends, fear of rejection and non-acceptance, handle homophobic situations, endure the associated social stigma ... Let's say it's a particular stress that heterosexual people do not necessarily have to suffer.

As we all know, childhood and adolescence are the times in which our personality is shaped and in which we are most vulnerable , and it is a really difficult stage to go through.

Now imagine what you should face, more to the point, a young homosexual or bisexual. In case it was not enough with the hormonal changes / discover their identity / try to fit in the peer group / perform in the institute / deal with physical changes, etc., now imagine the stress you must feel when thinking about the possible rejection or non-acceptance on the part of the people you love most: your family and your friends.

And if there is also a situation of bullying for homophobia (with the consequent loss of social support among their peers), the "perfect" ingredients are being introduced to generate a breeding ground that will cause psychological problems that will last over time, such as construction of low self-esteem, feelings of shame towards oneself, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, isolation, self-injury, etc. In one study (Rivers, 2004) it was stated that victims of bullying for homophobia were more likely to suffer depression in comparison to the victims of heterosexual bullying.

Several studies have shown that (eg, Bontempo and D'Augelli, 2002) levels of victimization were higher in LGBT students or that they had doubts about their affective-sexual orientation.Within the type of victimization, in general they tend to be more victimized verbally (insults, nicknames, derogatory comments ...).

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Intervention in this problem

Although it is surely a long process that needs the passage of several generations, it is necessary to educate society to eliminate the dichotomy of "normal = heterosexual", "abnormal = gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or transgender".

More specifically, schools should provide quality and inclusive sexual education, which addresses issues such as homosexuality and transsexuality (and does not only address sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy), empathy exercises for victims, social skills to stop the harassment ...

The main objective is modify negative attitudes towards minority groups such as the LGTB , and adopt a more inclusive vision with values ​​such as acceptance, egalitarianism, freedom and empathy towards equals. If in the schools / institutes this issue is not addressed naturally, leaving aside the "taboo" issues, it is contributing to the LGBT population being seen as something strange, and to continue perpetuating discrimination.

After all, the school is a very powerful educational element in society, and is considered one of the main agents of socialization along with the family, therefore it should encourage tolerant thinking in our young people, promoting the birth of positive values ​​towards different forms of sexual expression and gender diversity.

Addressing homophobia in and through schools: Promising examples from Thailand (June 2024).

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