A survey of teachers on homophobic bullying in Irish second-level schools

Case Studies & Research
Dublin City University, DCU

It is now generally accepted that bullying is a reality in most societies and Irish society is no exception. Some research has shown that those who are perceived as weak or different in society are more prone to being bullied. Therefore, in Irish schools, pupils who are perceived as gay or lesbian by others are often the targets of school bullies. This type of bullying has been termed as homophobic and is said to have taken place: ... where general bullying behaviour such as verbal and physical abuse and intimidation is accompanied by or consists of the use of terms such as gay, lesbian, queer or lezzie by perpetrators. Recent publications, including the Report of the Equality Authority Implementing Equality for Lesbian, Gays and Bisexuals (2002), highlight the "dearth" of local materials and pertinent data on the experiences of gay and lesbian people in Ireland and particularly in education. Furthermore, in their publication Equality and Power in Schools, Kathleen Lynch and Anne Lodge (2002) conclude that gay and lesbian pupils are amongst the most invisible people in Irish schools . However, it is also important to note that homophobic bullying affects all children not just those who may be gay or lesbian. Kehily (2001) describes the "pervasive presence of homophobia in interactions between young men and to a lesser extent young women". Homophobic jokes, banter, and abuse featured regularly in male peer groups and she found that "the potentially emasculating experience of being called gay haunted young men in school and identified certain boys as different". Consequently, it can be said that if Irish schools are to protect all young people and promote equality in education, there is a need to engage in further research into the phenomenon of homophobic bullying in Irish schools. The purpose of this report is to outline the results of a survey conducted at Dublin City University in 2004. The aim of the research was to discover the attitudes of SPHE teachers on the topic of homophobic bullying.

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