Identity-based bullying

Identity or prejudice-based bullying has been a policy interest for both New Labour and Coalition governments in recent years, and bullying is also an explicit feature within the current Ofsted school inspection framework.

We have conducted a range of projects within this area, led by Eleanor Formby, specifically concerning homophobic and transphobic bullying.

One regional project identified that homophobic bullying can impact upon young people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB), but also those with LGB friends or family. More broadly, the research examined the barriers and facilitators to schools and youth work settings including issues about homosexuality and gender identity in their practice.

A pan-European project for the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) explored the impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying on education and employment opportunities specifically. Participants highlighted that teachers' and peers' prejudicial attitudes towards their identities could impact upon their schooling, but some also said that it drove them on to succeed, or to volunteer/campaign on LGBT issues. Sometimes negative experiences at school also impacted upon decision-making about further study and/or career choice.

Currently, we are working with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to assess the needs and experiences of young transgender people in the area. The research is also looking at professionals and their needs and awareness levels when supporting this group of young people.

As well as a range of publically-available reports, Eleanor has authored a book chapter and a number of journal articles in this field, as well as presenting to a range of public, practitioner and academic audiences. This body of work has identified training and support needs for professionals working with young people, and has highlighted the need to understand the complexity of bullying, so as not to portray all LGBT young people as equally and inevitably 'vulnerable' or 'victimised '.

For more information on any of these projects please contact Eleanor Formby.