A Parent’s Guide to LGBT and Homophobic Bullying

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I thought this article from NO BULLYING.COM was very helpful for parents called A Parent’s Guide to LGBT and Homophobic Bullying

‘While bullying has become a common challenge teenagers and adolescents face at schools, more and more students are being maliciously name-called, having rumors spread about them and being gossiped about being gay. They receive unwanted sexual comments or jokes, and end up feeling isolated, excluded, intimidated and humiliated with obscene physical gestures, hitting, punching, poking, kicking, choking, chasing, stalking, or being threatened with physical harm. They might even receive unwanted sexual touching, teasing or harassment, in the name of being homosexual or acting outside of the boundaries of their perceived sexual identity. Learn More on homophobic bullying!

Other teens get cyber bullied through the Internet, instant messaging or cell phones, and they end up feeling intimidated, put down, threatened, excluded or made fun of because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. These are all several forms of homophobic bullying that happens both on and off school grounds, and so little is being done about it.

Homophobic bullying does not only affect lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) young people. Anyone who is perceived as different can become a target of homophobic bullying. Like any other form of bullying, homophobic bullying can be distressing for a child and can affect their confidence and well-being.

What can parents do?

As a parent or carer you can play an important role in making sure your child – regardless of their sexual orientation – has someone to turn to if they are being bullied and that they feel included and valued – at home and at school.

One of the most important things you can do as a parent or carer to be there to listen. Many young people find it difficult to talk about being homophobically bullied because they are afraid of what others might think. Some young people who experience homophobic bullying are afraid to tell anyone because they think people will assume they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. It is therefore important that you give your child time and space to talk to you about it. You should not just assume that your child is homosexual just because they are being homophobically bullied. You should also make sure your child knows that you respect, value and support them whatever their sexual orientation.

Bully-free Alberta provides the following ideas for parental guidance on how to deal with a homophobic-bullied child, teenager or adolescent.

If your child is the victim of homophobic bullying:

1. Offer support – Acknowledge and validate your child’s feelings and emotions. Let him or her know that it’s ok to question one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. By your child telling you about their experiences with bullying, they’re asking you for help and see you as a key resource and important source of support in their lives.

2. Listen – Don’t judge or blame them for what happened. Make sure your child knows that you love them for whom they are and they don’t deserve to be bullied or abused.

3. Educate yourself – Reach out and find information on sexual minority issues and childhood/adolescent development. Search for local supports in your community such as community groups or gay-straight alliances. Talk to your child’s school counselor, family doctor, or public health nurse.

4. Work with your school – Report any bullying incidents to your school immediately. Your school has a professional and legal responsibility to keep your child safe. Work with your school’s administration team to develop a safety plan. Encourage your school and school board to include specific written protections for LGBTQ students in its bullying prevention policies and student codes of conduct.

5. Document everything – Keep a written record of all bullying-related incidents and follow-up meetings, including the date, time, location, witnesses, and what was said or done.

6. Contact the police – If your child is threatened, physically hurt, sexually assaulted, or have had their property damaged or stolen, immediately contact your local police service or RCMP detachment. If your police service has a hate crimes unit, contact the unit or designated officer after you’ve filed your report. Identify that you believe this to be a hate-motivated crime based on your child’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Describe in detail the hate or prejudice expressed that caused your child to fear for his or her safety.

7. Communicate and build self-esteem – Don’t ignore your child’s feelings. Homophobic bullying can be an intensely personal and disturbing experience for anyone, but especially for youth who are searching to find their identity and sense of belonging to a community of peers and adults. Create opportunities for your child to build their self-confidence and personal resiliency. Help to develop their assets and strengths by creating opportunities for them to excel at activities of interest (i.e. Sports, dance, drama, or hobbies). Understand that many youth who are bullied may feel ashamed and internalize negative feelings of guilt, ridicule, or stigma. Help your son or daughter to move from internalizing to externalizing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

How should a child respond to homophobic language at school?

Many preteens and adolescents grow up to think homophobic bullying is acceptable because of how common casual homophobic language is at school, which makes it crucial to challenge homophobic language when it occurs.

Teens should know that homophobic language should not be tolerated, in or out of school.

Read more here


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