LGBT pupils more likely to be bullied if they are disabled, study shows

Adi Bloom

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Pupils who are disabled or have learning difficulties are significantly more likely to experience homophobic bullying than their mainstream classmates, according to a charity which has produced a guide for teachers on tackling the problem.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance cites data showing that 55 per cent of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) children are likely to be bullied at school about their sexuality or gender. Among LGBT pupils with learning difficulties or disabilities, however, that figure rises to 66 per cent.

The alliance also conducted its own research, speaking to 33 LGBT teenagers with disabilities or special needs. “How are we supposed to tell [teachers about incidents of bullying], if teachers don’t understand LGBT or disability?” one pupil said.

Another spoke of feeling marginalised, particularly during PSHE lessons: "People think disabled people are asexual as it is, so they don’t talk to you about any relationships, let alone about being or acknowledging that you are LGBT.”

The charity's new guide – being published to mark the start of LGBT History Month in February – recommends that:

  • teachers must take reports of bullying seriously. Pupils often say that they are not believed when they report bullying;
  • teachers deliver sex and relationships education that mentions both homosexual sex and also sex among disabled people;  
  • teachers discuss being LGBT in school, as well as being LGBT and disabled.

Lauren Seager-Smith, of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said that reports of dual discrimination were cause for concern. “We must listen to disabled young people in our schools and act on their recommendations,” she said.

The guide is available here.

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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