Dealing with abuse and mental health

Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying are the official terms that describe bullying motivated by prejudice against LGBT+ people.

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What counts as bullying?

Bullying of any kind can include anything from name-calling and spreading rumours to physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

If it’s making you feel upset or threatened, it’s probably bullying. Here are some common signs that you’re being bullied:

  • Teasing and name-calling
  • Making threats
  • Being put down or humiliated
  • Inappropriate hand gestures or groping
  • Being ignored or made to feel left out or excluded
  • Hitting, pinching, biting, pushing and shoving
  • Kicking, punching or being physically hurt
  • Stealing your belongings or money
  • Making things up to get you into trouble
  • Threats and intimidation
  • Making silent or offensive phone calls
  • Posting or sharing insulting messages, rumours or photos online
  • Sending offensive text messages
  • You are receiving threats to ‘out’ you and tell your friends and family about your sexuality or gender
  • Being compared to LGBT+ celebrities or characters that portray particular stereotypes of LGBT+ people

How to deal with bullies

Bullying is very upsetting and can really affect your mental and physical health. Bullying can leave you feeling worried or anxious, depressed, lonely, low in self-esteem and even scared. This can result in missing school or college or avoiding the place or places where the bully exists.

You have a right to express your sexuality and your gender and you should not be bullied or discriminated against simply because you are lesbian, gay, bi, trans or non-binary.

Some simple ways you can stop bullying before it gets out of hand include dismissing them, being assertive or challenging them on their remarks. 

If you feel like bullying is getting out of control, here are some simple steps you can take:

  • Tell a friend. Friends are key, both to support and distract you from what’s happening
  • Tell a parent or guardian. Even if you’re not ready to tell anyone else, their support could make all the difference
  • Tell a teacher: if you’re at school, your teachers have a duty to help you. By law schools must have bullying and equal opportunities policies for staff and pupils so ask to see their anti-bullying policy which should outline what steps they take to tackle bullying
  • Keep a diary or a record of the remarks or behaviour
  • Don’t reply to abusive messages as this could make things worse and more upsetting. But keep the messages so you can show them to an adult

Support 

If you are being bullied and don’t know what to do about it, you can contact ChildLine who are there to help you and provide advice.

Call to speak to one of ChildLine’s counsellors for free on 0800 1111 or use their online chat.

Misgender

The act of referring to someone as the wrong gender or using the wrong pronouns. This usually refers to intentionally or maliciously referring to a trans person incorrectly, but can also be done by accident.

A person’s individual identity is very important to them, so it can feel uncomfortable to be misgendered.

You should always be respectful of people’s gender identity and expression.

Not everyone identifies with one gender, some people will have a different gender to the one aligned with the sex they were assigned at birth; and others simply don’t present in stereotypical ways. Any harassment or bullying of people because of how they identify or present is wrong.  

Sometimes, it can feel difficult or complex to understand gender and you might worry about getting it wrong, but there are actions you can take like doing research on websites like Gendered Intelligence and Stonewall about trans and non-binary identities, talking to people about gender, not making assumptions based on what people look like, and trying to be sensitive and inclusive.

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