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.

Keeping Children Safe in Education

"The fact that a child or a young person may be LGBT is not in itself an inherent risk factor for harm. However, children who are LGBT can be targeted by other children.In some cases, a child who is perceived by other children to be LGBT (whether they are or not) can be just as vulnerable as children who identify as LGBT." - Clause 202, KCSIE 2022

"Risks can be compounded where children who are LGBT lack a trusted adult with whom they can be open. It is therefore vital that staff endeavour to reduce the additional barriers faced, and provide a safe space for them to speak out or share their concerns with members of staff." - Clause 203, KSCIE 2022

"LGBT inclusion is part of the statutory Relationships Education, Relationship and Sex Education and Health Education curriculum and there is a range of support available to help schools counter homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and abuse." - Clause 204, KSCIE 2022

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

Ofsted expects schools to be environments where commonalities are identified and celebrated, difference is valued and nurtured, and bullying, harassment and violence are never tolerated. 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 committed to challenging homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying. This includes the challenging of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic language. 

LGBT - Inclusive relationships and sex education

'All pupils should receive teaching on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relationships during their school years.' - DfE, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education Guidance (2020). 

Local guidance and resources

National guidance, resources and links

Diversity Role Models has been selected by the Department for Education to deliver a programme which empowers England schools to take a stand against all forms of bullying, with training interventions and resources to ensure staff have the knowledge and skills to tackle and prevent bullying and create inclusive school cultures.

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.

Oxfordshire Mind

Topaz  An informal group for LGBTI+ young people (13 – 18) 

View the Topaz flyer (png format, 485Kb) promoting online LGBTQI+ support sessions for young people (as well as parents/carers) across Oxfordshire.

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.

Safe! are now offering the opportunity for young people aged 13 to 17 who identify as LGBTQIA+, who have experienced domestic abuse within their own romantic relationships or have witnessed domestic abuse within their family, to take part in the DAY Programme (pdf format, 376Kb).

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.

The Anna Freud Centre have produced an excellent resource to support the mental health of LGBTQI+ young people. It includes sign-posting to a range of support at a time when access to support and safe spaces may have been limited.

To access support from Oxfordshire CAMHS, please visit https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/camhs/oxon/ for more information and to make a referral.

See below links for resources created by the Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) in Oxfordshire for schools to use as part of their LGBT-inclusion work. These resources are designed to be shared with young people who identify as LGBTQI+ and used to promote positive mental health for LGBTQI+ young people as part of RSHE Curriculum delivery.