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Section 8. Bullying

This section focuses on trans and gender diverse young people’s experiences of bullying at school. In the first instance, please watch the video about tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

This section also contains key findings from research, impactful quotes from parents, starting points to think about what you can do as well as resources for further study. Please navigate through this section and complete the corresponding worksheet in the workbook.

I know there was definitely a guy that I got to know […] and he'd be telling me, ‘oh, yeah, no, I'm not really in school. The last time I was in school, I got whacked over the head with a skateboard.’ […] [He was] having to proper fight his own battles, and physically fight, because people had a serious issue [with his gender identity].

(Martin, Age 20)

Bullying

Research

Trans and gender diverse youth described how:

  • They experienced harassment and violence from peers because of their gender identity and transition history
  • Transphobic bullying could occur anywhere in school and also online outside of school hours
  • They were particularly vulnerable to bullying and violence in gender-segregated bathrooms and changing rooms
  • Staff who witnessed transphobic bullying did not always intervene appropriately
  • Some trans and gender diverse youth who reported an incident of transphobic bullying felt that the school staff did not respond to it effectively, which left them feeling hurt and frustrated

International research has shown that trans and gender diverse youth:

  • Experience disproportionate levels of peer bullying compared to cisgender peers (Sterzing, et al. 2017; Toomey et al., 2010)
  • Who experience transphobia have been found to be more likely to self-harm and attempt suicide (Jones and Hillier, 2013)

Consequently, researchers have called on schools to:

  • develop policies and practices aimed at preventing transphobic bullying and harassment as well as seek to eliminate prejudice among students and staff (Gower et al., 2018)

I had been using the guys toilets, I’d been walking in with a friend and nobody noticed me. This one time they did and they trapped me in a stall and they started to throw books and pens, pour water over me. A sixth year had to intervene.

(Jack, Age 19)

What you can do

  • In-line with the Department of Education and Skills [DES, 2013] Anti-bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-primary Schools, ensure your school explicitly mentions transphobia in your anti-bullying policy as well as detailing and implementing education and prevention strategies that tackle the conditions through which transphobic bullying arises
  • Implement recommendations outlined in GLEN (2015) Being LGBT in School
  • Take part in Stand Up Week

Resources

Next steps

Complete worksheet 8 and then continue to Section 9: Curriculum.