The research surveyed over 5000 primary and secondary school students


A new report carried out by anti-bullying charity Diversity Role Models – titled the Impact Report – has found that being gay is the leading motivation for bullying amongst secondary school students. Bullying of girls for gender-specific reasons is the third most common form of bullying, heavily underestimated by those not experiencing it.

Critically, the report finds that 42% of secondary school pupils are most likely to be bullied when they are either gay or thought to be gay. Primary school pupils are most likely to be bullied for their differences (10%) or for looking different (10%), with the report concluding that bullying is largely underestimated by teachers and pupils that lay outside target groups. Diversity Role Models advises that embedding Diversity throughout the curriculum at all levels would reduce homophobic bullying.

The research was conducted across 50 schools, with DRM surveying both pupils and teachers. The findings suggest that there is a correlation, or a direct relationship, between schools without inclusive education in place relating to LGBTQI issues and disability alike and higher levels of bullying.

Delivering the UK Government’s Embracing Difference, Ending Bullying programme in conjunction with a few organisations, Diversity Role Models works to embed inclusion and empathy through education and role model storytelling, aiming to end homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in UK schools. According to its analysis, girls were four times more likely than boys to recognise bullying of girls and LGBTQI pupils were almost twice as likely to recognise bullying of LGBTQI pupils than their heterosexual counterparts. Asking pupils about the motivations behind bullying, 37% of surveyed secondary school students expressed that pupils were bullied for not behaving like a “typical boy” or a “typical girl.”

Importantly, the Impact Report further finds that bullying is chronically underreported by pupils, with only 65% stating that they would report bullying or prejudice to a teacher if they were an eyewitness. Overall, the survey gathered responses from 5558 pupils, 908 teachers and 67 members of the senior leadership team across 50 schools. Notably, language was simplified so that terms like LGBTQI and transgender were replaced with “gay” so that the survey could ask both secondary and primary school students.

Matt Garvey is the CEO of Diversity Role Models, and comments, “It’s a shock that some of these bullying statistics are so high. Embedding diversity in curriculum subjects could strengthen inclusive education and reduce bullying for groups such as LGBT+ pupils. There’s no question that schools want to tackle bullying. However, teachers tell us that they lack the confidence to talk about diversity, often for fear of saying the wrong thing. They lack the time to build diversity into their lessons, especially under pressure of post-pandemic catch up, and worry about a lack of support from the wider community and parents.”

“However, during this project we have seen examples of excellent practice in the schools we work with. Our Best Practice report takes some of these examples to support other schools in reducing bullying”, Matt concludes.

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