Something in common

Every child, everywhere, every day.


Homophobic bullying

1. What is homophobic bullying?

Homophobic bullying is a type of bullying that is based on someone’s actual (or what someone else thinks is their) sexual orientation or gender identity, expression or presentation. Young people may experience this type of bullying if they are, or are perceived to be same-sex attracted, geder diverse or intersex (SSAGDI).

Homophobic bullying may be:

  • physical, like getting punched or pushed
  • verbal, like name-calling
  • or it might be like excluding someone from group activities or spreading rumours about them behind their back.

Young people may experience this homophobic bullying if they are (or people think they are) same-sex attracted, gender diverse or intersex (SSAGDI).

Basically we’re talking about:

  • girls who like like girls
  • boys who like like boys
  • young people who are attracted to both girls and boys
  • young people whose gender is different from their birth sex
  • young people whose physical, hormonal or genetic features don’t fit neatly into ‘male’ or ‘female’

2. Is homophobic bullying actually a big problem?

80% of verbal and physical abuse occurs at school


Yes – the following alarming figures are taken from Writing Themselves In 3.

In 2010, of the LGBTI young people surveyed:

  • 61% reported experiencing verbal homophobic abuse
  • 18% reported experiencing physical homophobic abuse
  • 69% reported experiencing other types of homophobia, including cyber bullying, graffiti, social exclusion and humiliation
  • Young men and gender diverse young people reported more abuse than young women
  • 80% of this abuse occurs at school.

The figures used in the animation are taken from this research.

3. How does homophobic bullying affect LGBTI young people?

Writing Themselves In 3 found that homophobic bullying has a profound impact on the wellbeing and education of LGBTI young people:

  • 29% said they could not concentrate at school
  • 21% missed classes
  • 20% reported a drop in their marks
  • 9% did not use the toilets
  • 8% dropped out altogether
  • almost double the number of young people who had been verbally abused (40%) had thought of self-harm, compared to those who had not experienced abuse (22%)
  • almost three time the number of young people who had been physically abused (62%) had thought of self-harm.

4. Is homophobic bullying a human rights issue?

Yes. Homophobic bullying is a national human rights issue. LGBTI students attend all school types, in all states and territories of Australia, in urban, regional and remote locations. 80% of homophobic bullying occurs at school. All Australian schools have a responsibility to ensure that homophobic bullying is addressed.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has said that ‘Homophobic bullying is a “grave violation” of human rights’. Bullying can impact on the rights to equality, health, education and privacy – just to name a few!

Everyone has the right to be respected and safe, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or because they are intersex. Violence, harassment and bullying are violations of these fundamental human rights.

All young people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights. Protection from bullying is essential to ensure that all persons can fully enjoy all rights. These include the right to health and to access a quality education in a safe environment.

5. What can you do?

Click here for Things teachers and schools can do

Click here for Things students can do


The Commission recognises that terminology can have a profound impact on a young person’s identity, self-worth and inherent dignity. The use of inclusive and acceptable terminology empowers individuals and enables visibility of important issues. The Commission supports the right of young people to identify their sexual orientation, gender identity and their sex and/or gender as they choose.

Terminology commonly used includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse and intersex (LGBTI). However young people may not always identify in this way. The researchers in Writing Themselves in 3 use the language of same-sex attracted and gender questioning to include young people who may be questioning or who don’t want to use a particular identity label. In this way the Commission will also refer to same-sex attracted, gender diverse and intersex (SSAGDI) young people to be as inclusive as possible. On this page the Commission will use SSAGDI and LGBTI as umbrella terms interchangeably depending on the context.

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