Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

‘Widespread’ bullying of LGBT young people with special educational needs

BULLiedgirlThe Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) has launched new resources for school staff to help tackle the homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying of disabled young people and those with special educational needs (SEN).

According to research by charity National Children’s Bureau half of children who identify as LGBT have experienced bullying relating to their gender or sexual orientation, with disabled children and those with SEN at increased risk. Their survey of LGBT young people in the UK found that two thirds (66%) of children with disabilities or SEN had experienced homophobic bullying, compared to 55% among the sample as a whole.

ABA National Co-ordinator Lauren Seager-Smith said: “We are very concerned by reports of dual discrimination, bullying and marginalisation experienced by disabled young people that identify as LGBT+. We must listen to disabled young people in our schools and act on their recommendations, fight for statutory sex and relationships education that is inclusive of all young people, and make sure our anti-bullying initiatives do not exclude those children most at risk.’

“More research is needed which looks at the prejudice facing young people who fall into both of these minority groups. We must focus on a whole-school approach to combatting the issue; with comprehensive anti-bullying policies – which specifically reference prejudiced based bullying, and proper sex and relationships education which doesn’t focus solely on heterosexual sex, relationships and sexual health and which is tailored, appropriate and accessible for disabled children and those with SEN.”

Qualitative research by ABA with disabled young people, some of whom identified as LGBT+3, confirmed that teachers didn’t always understand the issues they faced. The young people ABA spoke to revealed the ‘top issues’ schools should address if they are to reduce bullying of disabled young people including reports being taken seriously and more focused sex and relationships education.

The new ABA resources have been developed in partnership with Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) and are being published to mark the start of LGBT History Month to counter recent reports suggesting that schools feel under-resourced when it comes to dealing with homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

Jonathan Charlesworth, Executive Director of EACH, added: “Today, every forward-looking school strives to support all its pupils not regardless of but because of their pupils’ and staff’s diverse sexuality, gender, identity, race, faith or ability. We hope these new resources will help schools support disabled children and those with special educational needs so they do not have to suffer the lasting harm that comes from being bullied.”

The resources for schools are available at: www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/our-work/homophobic,-biphobic-and-transphobic-bullying/ (picture posed by models)

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