Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying

Guidance and resources to help you tackle HBT bullying and support LGBT young people.

Homophobic, bi-phobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying is bullying directed at someone who is or is perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT).

Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes, feelings or actions toward homosexual people, homosexuality in general or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT+). Homophobia can include fear, aversion, hatred, violence, anger, or discomfort felt or expressed towards people who do not conform to heteronormativity. Homophobia may be based on irrational fear and ignorance and is often related to religious beliefs.

Heteronormativity is the belief that heterosexuality, predicated on the gender binary, is the norm or default sexual orientation. It assumes that sexual and marital relations are most fitting between people of opposite sex.

Biphobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes, feelings or actions toward bisexuality and toward bisexual people as a social group or as individuals. It can take the form of denial that bisexuality is a genuine sexual orientation and can involve promoting negative stereotypes about people who are bisexual (such as the belief that they are promiscuous or dishonest).

Transphobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes, feelings or actions toward transgender people, non-binary people, those perceived as non-binary or transgender, transness in general and those who may be questioning their gender identity. Transphobia can include fear, aversion, hatred, violence, anger, or discomfort felt or expressed towards people who do not conform to social gender expectations.

Equality Act 2010  

Under the Equality Act 2010, schools must not discriminate.  In their teaching of Relationships Education and RSE (Relationships and Sex Education), schools should ensure that the needs of all pupils are appropriately met, and that all pupils understand the importance of equality and respect. Schools must ensure that they comply with the relevant provisions of the Equality Act 2010, under which sexual orientation and gender reassignment are amongst the protected characteristics.

UN Convention on the Rights of a Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of a Child states that:

  • The Convention applies to every child without discrimination, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status, whatever they think or say, whatever their family background (Article 2 – non-discrimination)
  • The best interests of the child must be a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect children (Article 3 - best interests of the child)
  • Every child has the right to an education. Primary education must be free and different forms of secondary education must be available to every child. Discipline in schools must respect children’s dignity and their rights (Article 28 – right to education)
  • Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full (Article 29 – goals of education)

Intersectional identities

Intersectionality theory (Crenshaw, 1989) highlights that people are often disadvantaged or privileged by individual characteristics, which ‘intersect’ with one another and overlap: their race, age, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion and other identity markers.

Many of these intersections include protected characteristics covered by the Equality Act 2010; which must be considered in regard to the intention and impact of the behaviours, and additional vulnerabilities.

While just one individual characteristic can make somebody more susceptible to discrimination, intersectionality allows us to recognise that some will have overlapping and cumulative vulnerabilities.


Ofsted (May 2019) expects schools to be environments in which commonalities are identified and celebrated, difference is valued and nurtured, and bullying, harassment and violence are never tolerated.   From September 2020, it is expected that all pupils are taught LGBT content at a timely point as part of the curriculum.     

Oxfordshire County Council – Committed to LGBT inclusion

Oxfordshire County Council is a member of the Children and Young People’s Services (CYPS) Champion’s Programme and we are committed to challenging HBT bullying. This includes the challenging of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic language. Last year Oxfordshire was joint winner in the Stonewall Education Equality Index (out of around 40 local authorities who entered).

School Training Offer

Oxfordshire schools can access free training on LGBT-inclusion via our Learner Engagement – School Training Offer webpage and can also access the Learn Equality, Live Equal programme through the Learner Engagement Service.  For more information, email clare.pike@oxfordshire.gov.uk    

Local guidance and resources

National guidance, resources and links

Stonewall provide a range of different information to tackle bullying which can be accessed via their website

Stonewall school champions programme

Stonewall have produced the following guides to support you with getting started on LGBT inclusion and challenging LGBT bullying:

Stonewall has a wide range of other education resources

Stonewall School Report 2017

Trans Guidance for Schools

For more information on how to support children who identify as transgender, non-binary or are questioning their gender identity, go to: https://gids.nhs.uk/guidance-schools

The Gires website provides information for trans people, their families and professionals working with them. They have produced guidance on tackling transphobic bullying in schools.

Mermaids UK are a charity that provide family and individual support for teenagers and children with gender identity issues.

The Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SABP) and the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) have jointly developed an excellent e-learning resource on the care of gender nonconforming young people which is aimed at professionals and families.

Local support for LGBT young people

The Oxfordshire County Council youth website provides information on sexuality, gender and gender questioning and including links to national and local support.

Topaz  An informal group for LGBTI+ young people (13 – 18) Meetings are currently held in Cowley, Oxford City  Wantage (by Sweatbox), Bicester (by OYAP), Didcot (by Train) Witney, Abingdon and Banbury coming soon! Please see website for further details.     

Updated July 2020 - View the Topaz flyer (png format, 485Kb) promoting online LGBTQI+ support sessions that will be running throughout the summer for young people (as well as parents/carers) across Oxfordshire

My Normal is a creative, vibrant and safe social space for LGBTQ+ youth to reduce isolation, increase voice, campaign for acceptance, challenge prejudice, encourage the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders & to devise arts projects that encourage self-expression and a sense of connection. This is an inclusive project for young people 13 up to 25 and FREE. My Normal is currently in collaboration with the Ark T Centre running a music project for LGBTQ+ & disabled young people  http://www.ark-t.org/music/my-normal-music-project/

Pegasus Theatre True Colours Project is a FREE weekly creative arts project in Oxford City for young people who identify or are allies of the LGBTQ+ community. For further details please contact Kat Booth, Participation Co-ordinator on participation@pegasustheatre.org.uk or telephone 01865 812177

SAFE! Project support for young people who have been victims of crime, including bullying in relation to sexuality and gender. SAFE! is a charity providing support in the Thames Valley area including Oxfordshire.

Mental health support

LGBT young people experience increased incidence of mental health problems and levels of self-harm. It is therefore crucial that they are referred for mental health support when appropriate. Please contact https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/camhs/oxon/ for more information and to make a referral.

Examples of good practice in schools from Oxfordshire Youth Conferences: