Bullying, stigma and prejudice against LGBTQI pupils is prevalent in Cypriot schools, a recent report showed.
The report was conducted as part of the EU-funded project “Combating HOMophobic and Transphobic bullying in schools – Hombat.”
For the needs of the project, 150 people (pupils, parents, educators, counselors) were asked to report how often certain situations occurred in their school.
They said that the situations that appeared to occur in the school environment frequently, ranging from several times per year to several times per month and more often were the following:
- 82.8% said that they often see pupils calling other pupils gay, faggot, lesbian, butch and other similar negative words
- 80% said that they often see pupils telling other pupils to “not act like a girl“(for boys) or to “not act like a boy” (for girls)
- 62.8% said that LGBTQI pupils are often left out on purpose by other pupils from various activities
- 54.2% said that pupils make fun of LGBTQI pupils
- 54.2% said that pupils spread “nasty” rumours about LGTBQI pupils
- 45.6% said that pupils intimidate/ threaten LGBTQI pupils
- 44.2% said that pupils make negative comments about LGBTQI pupils on the internet
- 38.4% said that pupils take away or destroy property of LGBTQI pupils
- 34.2% said that they often see LGBTI pupils being hit or pushed by other pupils
- 28.5% said that they often see LGBTQI pupils being sexually touched/harassed by other pupils
Which pupils are targeted the most?
The group that was identified as the one more likely (72.9%) to be subjected to bullying is the group of students “who do not fit the expected image of a boy or girl.”
The group that ranked second (68. %) in terms of how likely is to be subjected to bullying is students who are overweight.
This was followed by students with a migrant background (54.3%), students who face learning challenges (51.4%) and students from poor families (34.4%).
Finally, anyone could be subjected to bullying was an answer that received 8.6%.
There was also a 10% of participants said that they do not know which students are usually subjected to bullying.
What should schools do?
Next, participants were asked to state the degree to which they agree with some statements regarding homophobic and transphobic bullying.
Most of the participants completely agreed with the following statements:
- 61.4% agreed that the school should prevent or fight negative comments against LGBTQI people
- 52.8% agreed that LGBTQI people should be able to express their sexual orientation or gender identity at school
- 58.5% agreed that the school should take the wellbeing of LGBTQI students into account
- 57.1% agreed with the statement that research shows that LGBTQI people miss lessons because of negative atmosphere in school and the school should make sure they don’t skip lessons
- 64.2% agreed with the statement that research shows that LGBTQI students have a higher level of suicide than heterosexual male/female students and the school should make sure they feel comfortable at school
Last, participants were asked whether the class of sex education is being provided and taught at school. 61.4 % said no and 38.6 % said yes. Those who answered yes (38.6 %) were asked whether sex education includes information about different sexual orientations and gender identities. The vast majority of them (66.7 %) said no it does not include information about different sexual orientations and gender identities and 33.3% said that it does provide information on the aforementioned issues. Participants were also asked whether the class of sex education includes information about identification and prevention of homophobic and transphobic bullying. Importantly, 90.9 % replied no whereas only 9.1 % said yes.
Under the project, the Ministry of Education and Accept – LGBT Cyprus will organise workshops for educators, pupils, counselors and parents to help them develop skills to respond to instances of transphobic and homophobic bullying.