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Majority of young gay Scots face hate in schools

Majority of young gay Scots face hate in schools

New research has found that 52% of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in Scottish secondary schools experience homophobic bullying.

The findings in Stonewall Scotland’s School Report Scotland 2012, carried out by the University of Cambridge, 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%) of gay young Scots have attempted to take their own life, and more than half (54%) deliberately harm themselves.

The report also reveals that almost all gay young people (99%) hear homophobic language like ‘that’s so gay’ and ‘you’re so gay’, while 97% of gay pupils hear other insulting homophobic remarks, such as ‘poof’ or ‘lezza’.

Glen, a 17-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%) of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils say their school responds quickly to homophobic bullying behavior when it occurs and less than three in five (57%) 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.

She said: ‘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 12 years ago, many schools do not inform or reach about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) issues; almost half (48 per cent) of LGBT pupils in Scotland are never taught anything about this subject.

Stonewall Scotland Director, Colin Macfarlane, told Gay Star News: ‘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.’