Gay bashing

"Gay bash" redirects here. For the Drawn Together episode, see List of Drawn Together episodes.

Gay bashing and gay bullying is verbal or physical abuse against a person who is perceived by the aggressor to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, including persons who are actually heterosexual or of non-specific or unknown sexual orientation.

A "bashing" may be a specific incident, and one could also use the verb to bash (e.g. "I was gay bashed."). A verbal gay bashing might use sexual slurs, expletives, intimidation, and threatened or actual violence. It also might take place in a political forum and include one or more common anti-gay slogans.

Gay bullying involves intentional and unprovoked actions toward the victim, repeated negative actions by one or more people against another person, and an imbalance of physical or psychological power.[1] Similar terms such as lesbian bullying, queer bullying, and queer bashing may also be formed.


Gay bashing has occurred worldwide for many decades and continues today.[2] Homophobia in the United States was especially serious in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when many gay people were forced out of government by boards set up by Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. As historian David K. Johnson explains:[3]

The Lavender Scare helped fan the flames of the Red Scare. In popular discourse, communists and homosexuals were often conflated. Both groups were perceived as hidden subcultures with their own meeting places, literature, cultural codes, and bonds of loyalty. Both groups were thought to recruit to their ranks the psychologically weak or disturbed. And both groups were considered immoral and godless. Many people believed that the two groups were working together to undermine the government.

Johnson concludes that Senator Joe McCarthy, notorious for his attacks on alleged communists in government, was often pressured by his allies to denounce homosexuals in government, but he resisted and did not do so.[3] Using rumors collected by Drew Pearson, one Nevada publisher wrote in 1952 that both McCarthy and his chief counsel, Roy Cohn, were homosexuals.[note 1] Washington Post editor Benjamin C. Bradlee said, "There was a lot of time spent investigating" these allegations, "although no one came close to proving it." No reputable McCarthy biographer has accepted it as probable.[note 2]

Queer bullying

Egale Canada conducted a survey of more than 3700 high school students in Canada between December 2007 and June 2009. The final report of the survey, "Every Class in Every School",[4] published in 2011, found that 70% of all students participating heard “that’s so gay” daily at school, and 48% of respondents heard "faggot", "lezbo" and "dyke" daily. 58% or about 1400 of the 2400 heterosexual students participating in EGALE's survey found homophobic comments upsetting. Further, EGALE found that students not directly affected by homophobia, biphobia or transphobia were less aware of it. This finding relates to research done in the area of empathy gaps for social pain which suggests that those not directly experiencing social pain (in this case, bullying) consistently underestimate its effects and thus may not adequately respond to the needs of one experiencing social pain.[5]

EGALE, along with previous research[6][7][8][9] has found teachers and school administration may be complicit in queer bullying through their silence and/or inaction.

Graffiti found on school grounds and property, and its "relative permanence",[8] is another form of queer bullying.

Some researchers suggest including youth questioning their sexuality in any research on queer bullying because they may be as susceptible to its effects[9][10][11] as queer students.

A research study of 78 eleven to fourteen-year-old boys conducted in twelve schools in London, England between 1998 and 1999[7] revealed that respondents who used the word "gay" to label another boy in a derogatory manner intended the word as "just a joke", "just a cuss" and not as a statement of one's perceived sexual orientation.[8][12] American sociologist Michael Kimmel and American psychologist Gregory Herek write that masculinity is a renunciation of the feminine and that males shore up their sense of their masculinity by denigrating the feminine and ultimately the homosexual.[13][14] Building on the notion of masculinity defining itself by what it is not, some researchers suggest that in fact the renunciation of the feminine may be misogyny.[7][8] These intertwining issues were examined in 2007, when American sociologist CJ Pascoe described what she calls the "fag discourse" at an American high school in her book, Dude, You're a Fag.

Gay and lesbian youth are more likely to report bullying.[15] In one study, boys who were bullied with taunts of being gay suffered more bullying and more negative effects compared with boys who were bullied with other categories of taunting.[16]

Effects of queer bullying

Queer bullying may make some victims feel sad and unsafe in the world.[17][18] Bullying will affect a student's experience of school. Some victims might feel paralyzed and withdraw socially as a coping mechanism.[6] Other victims of queer bullying may begin to live the effects of learned helplessness.[18] Queer or questioning students may try to pass as heterosexual in order to avoid queer bullying. Passing isolates the student from other queer or questioning students, potential allies, and support.[8] Adults who try to pass also may feel the effects emotionally and psychologically, of this effort to conceal their true identities.[14] Queer and questioning youth who experience bullying have a higher incidence of substance abuse and STI and HIV infection,[10][19][20] which may carry through to adulthood. Queer bullying may also be seen as a manifestation of what American academic Ilan Meyer calls minority stress,[21] which may affect sexual and ethno-racial minorities attempting to exist within a challenging broader society.

Statistics and examples

Teens face harassment, threats, and violence. A 1998 study in the US by Mental Health America found that students heard anti-gay slurs such as "homo", "faggot" and "sissy" about 26 times a day on average, or once every 14 minutes.[22] In a study conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, a union for UK professionals, the word “gay” was reported to be the most popular term of abuse heard by teachers on a regular basis.[23]

About two-thirds of gay and lesbian students in British schools have suffered from gay bullying in 2007, according to a study done by the Schools Education Unit for LGB activist group Stonewall. Almost all that had been bullied had experienced verbal attacks, 41 percent had been physically attacked, and 17 percent had received death threats. It also showed that over 50% of teachers did not respond to homophobic language which they had explicitly heard in the classroom, and only 25% of schools had told their students that homophobic bullying was wrong, showing "a shocking picture of the extent of homophobic bullying undertaken by fellow pupils and, alarmingly, school staff",[24] with further studies conducted by the same charity in 2012 stated that 90% of teachers had had no training on the prevention of homophobic bullying. However, Ofsted's new 2012 framework did ask schools what they would be doing in order to combat the issue.[25]

The rate of suicide is higher among LGBT people. According to a 1979 Jay and Young study, 40 percent of gay men and 39 percent of gay women in the US had attempted or seriously thought about suicide.[26] In the same study conducted by the Schools Education Unit for LGB activist group Stonewall, an online survey reported that 71 percent of the girl participants who identified as LGBTQ, and 57 percent of the boy participants who identified as LGBTQ had seriously considered suicide.[27] In 1985, F. Paris estimated that suicides by gay youth may comprise up to 30 percent of all youth suicides in the US. This contributes to suicide being the third leading cause for death among youth aged 10–24, reported by the CDC.[28] The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has found that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth attempt suicide at a rate three to six times that of similar-age heterosexual youth.[29] The Schools Education Unit also reports that in the same online survey, 25 percent of the people who identified as LGBTQ, have attempted to commit suicide.[30]



Some U.S. states have implemented laws to address school bullying.
  Law that prohibits discrimination against students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  Law that prohibits discrimination against students based on sexual orientation only
  Law that prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  School regulation or ethical code for teachers that address discrimination and/or bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity
  School regulation or ethical code for teachers that address discrimination and/or bullying of students based on sexual orientation only
  Law that forbids school-based instruction of LGBT issues in a positive manner
  Law that forbids local school districts from having anti-bullying policies that enumerate protected classes of students
  Law that prohibits bullying in school but lists no categories of protection
  No statewide law that specifically prohibits bullying in schools

The state of Illinois passed a law (SB3266) in June 2010 that prohibits gay bullying and other forms of bullying in schools.[52]

In the Philippines, legislators implemented Republic Act No. 10627, otherwise known as the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013, in schools. According to the said law, gender-based bullying is defined as ˮany act that humiliates or excludes a person on the basis of perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)ˮ.[53]


In response to growing awareness of gay bashing and bullying, a number of support groups have been founded to help LGBT people cope with their abuse. In Europe Stonewall UK,[54] and Anti-Bullying Network[55] are active in the UK, while Russia has the Russian LGBT network.[56]

Notable in the United States is the It Gets Better Project, for which celebrities and ordinary LGBT people make YouTube videos and share messages of hope for gay teens.[57][58][59] The organization works with USA, The Trevor Project[58] and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.[59] The Safe Schools Coalition provides resources for teachers and students where bullying is a problem. Egale Canada works with LGBT Canadian citizens.[60] In Brazil, the Gay Group of Bahia (Grupo Gay da Bahia) provides support.[61][62][63] LGBT South Africans can turn to the South African Human Rights Commission.[64]

See also


  1. After McCarthy called him an ex-Communist, Hank Greenspun wrote: "It is common talk among homosexuals in Milwaukee who rendezvous in the White Horse Inn that Senator Joe McCarthy has often engaged in homosexual activities." Las Vegas Sun, October 25, 1952. McCarthy later explained he meant to call Greenspun an ex-convict (which was true), rather than an ex-Communist (which was false).
  2. The allegations are specifically rejected in Richard Rovere, Senator Joe McCarthy (1969), p. 68; see also Robert D. Dean, Imperial Brotherhood: Gender and the Making of Cold War Foreign Policy (2001) p. 149 (includes Bradlee quote); Kyle A. Cuordileone, Manhood and American Political Culture in the Cold War (2003), p. 94; Thomas Patrick Doherty, Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture, (2003), p. 228. Geoff Schumacher, Sun, Sin & Suburbia: An Essential History of Modern Las Vegas (2004), p. 144, concludes, "Greenspun descended into mud-spewing rhetoric that would make the National Enquirer blanch." Knowing that McCarthy would not dare enter Nevada, where he would be served with a lawsuit for defaming Greenspun, Greenspun punished McCarthy with his own weapon of anonymous, scandalous accusations.


  1. "Bullying Myths and Facts". US Dept of Education. Retrieved Oct 2, 2010.
  2. Rogers, Thomas. "Explaining American schools' gay bullying epidemic". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  3. 1 2 "An interview with David K. Johnson". University of Chicago Press.
  4. Every Class in Every School, Final Report on the First National Climate Survey on Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in Canadian Schools, Egale Canada
  5. Nordgren, L. F.; Banas, K.; MacDonald, G. (2011). "Empathy Gaps for Social Pain: Why People Underestimate the Pain of Social Suffering". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 100 (1): 120–128. doi:10.1037/a0020938.
  6. 1 2 Crozier, W. R. & Skliopidou, E. (2002). Adult Recollections of Name-calling at School. Educational Psychology, 22(1), 113-124
  7. 1 2 3 Phoenix, A. , Frosh, S. & Pattman, R. (2003). Producing Contradictory Masculine Subject Positions: Narratives of Threat, Homophobia and Bullying in 11-14 Year Old Boys. Journal of Social Issues, 59(1), 179-195
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Smith, G. W. (1998). "The Ideology of "Fag": The School Experience of Gay Students". The Sociological Quarterly. 39 (2): 309–335. doi:10.1111/j.1533-8525.1998.tb00506.x.
  9. 1 2 Swearer, S. M. , Turner, R. K. , Givens, J. E. , & Pollack, W. S. (2008). "You’re So Gay!": Do Different Forms of Bullying Matter for Adolescent Males?. School Psychology Review, 37(2), 160-173
  10. 1 2 Russell, S. T.; Joyner, K. (2001). "Adolescent Sexual Orientation and Suicide Risk: Evidence From a National Study". American Journal of Public Health. 91 (8): 1276–1281. doi:10.2105/ajph.91.8.1276.
  11. Williams, T. , Connolly, J. , Pepler, D. & Craig, W. (2005). Peer Victimization, Social Support, and Psychosocial Adjustment of Sexual Minority Adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34(5), 471-482
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  13. Kimmel, M. (2010). Masculinity as Homophobia, Fear, Shame and Silence in the Construction of Gender Identity. In M. S. Kimmel & A. L. Ferber (Eds.), Privilege, A Reader (pp.107-131). Boulder: Westview Press
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  63. "kit anti-homofobia: grupo Gay da Bahia dá troféu de "inimiga da causa" a presidente Dilma Rousseff". TV Recôncavo (in Portuguese). 03-10-2012. Retrieved 2013-01-14. Check date values in: |date= (help)

Further reading

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