Homophobic bullying

Homophobic bullying is when someone treats you badly because of how they see your sexual orientation. It can include treating you badly or hurting you on purpose. It’s wrong. But you can get help.

Being bullied?

Sometimes people say stuff like ‘that’s so gay’, ‘you walk like a gay’, ‘you dress like a lesbian’ or ‘you’re too pretty to be a lesbian’. They might seem like jokes or just banter, but it’s bullying.

Making fun of someone because of what you think their sexuality is or judging them is not right.

Homophobic bullying can happen by being:

  • called names or teased
  • hit, punched or physically abused
  • threatened, made to feel scared or unsafe
  • sexually assaulted or harassed
  • cyber bullied or threatened online
  • ignored or excluded from things.

What is homophobia?

Homophobia is a fear or dislike of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) people, or people who are thought to be LGB. It’s based on prejudice and it can lead to LGB people being bullied or hurt. LGB people can sometimes be discriminated against. Sometimes, people pretend to be homophobic to fit in or because of peer pressure.

Homophobia can make you feel like there's something wrong with being LGB. This is not true. You have a right to be who you are.

Homophobia can include people:

  • insulting you or threatening you because of your sexual orientation
  • saying things like “It’s just a phase you’re going through,” or “How can you know your sexual orientation at your age?”
  • telling you that being LGB is a choice and that you can change your sexual orientation
  • telling you that being LGB is an illness.

Watch: Experiences of homophobia

How you can be yourself

Sexuality is one part of a person. We should try to get to know people for who they are and the things they do or enjoy instead of judging them for their sexuality.

You have the right to be true to yourself. And people should respect that.

Things that can help with coming out and being yourself:

  • Tell yourself who you are and what makes you proud of your sexuality
    You could write this down, draw a picture, make a poem or just say it in front of a mirror.
  • Talk to someone you trust
    When you feel accepted by someone you care about it can help build your confidence if you decide to tell other people.
  • Think about what makes you unique
    We all have differences and can learn a lot about each other if we talk about stuff like our hobbies and what we enjoy. If we were all the same, the world would be a really boring place!
  • Find other people who might be going through similar feelings
    You can join local clubs, check out our message boards or look for support groups online. 

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Get support from our counsellors.

Coming out

Coming out when your parents are homophobic
Coming out is a brave step in anyone’s life. But it can be even harder if your parents (or other people in your life) are homophobic. If you’re coming out to someone who you think may react badly, it’s important to do this at a time that’s right and safe for you.

You could start by telling someone you trust, who you know will support you. You could then ask that person to help you come out to more people. Doing it in stages like this can help you feel in control of the situation. Only you will know when you feel ready to tell people.

Your sexual orientation is only one part of what makes you the person you are. Someone’s first reaction to you coming out might not be how they will truly feel as time goes on. This can be a big piece of news. People might take a little while to adjust. Being LGB doesn’t change who you are – your family should accept that.

In the UK, there are laws to protect people from homophobia. Your school should take homophobic bullying seriously and help things get better. If you have a bad experience with homophobia you can talk to a teacher and find out about your school's anti-bullying policy. You can also report it to your local police or online through the True Vision scheme.

Albert Kennedy Trust supports young LGB people who are dealing with abusive situations at home, or worried about being homeless.

Young Stonewall also has lots of useful info and advice.

Getting help and staying safe

Everyone has the right to feel safe and not be discriminated against. It can be tough if you’re worried about what people will do or what they’ll say to you.

Some things you can try:

  • Listen to yourself
    Don’t go to places that make you uncomfortable. If you get that uneasy feeling or tightness in your stomach, it’s your body and mind telling you that something might not be right. Make sure you’ve got people you trust with you.
  • Tell someone 
    If you’re worried about being bullied at school, tell an adult who you trust. If they don’t help you, you can get support from the head teacher to make a complaint. Schools have to take bullying seriously and protect you.
  • Keep a diary of what’s happening
    Write down when and how it made you feel. This can be a really good way to gather evidence if you decide to tell someone.
  • Tell the police
    If you’re out in a public place and feel unsafe or scared. They should try to help you feel safe. If you ever feel in danger and need urgent help, dial 999.
  • Get support
    Have a look at our message boards or talk to us . We’re here for you and you don’t have to cope on your own.