What is Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic (HBT) Bullying? HBT bullying occurs when people are targeted because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexual orientation (LGBTQ), or are thought to be LGBTQ or have LGBTQ friends/relatives

Like other forms of bullying, HBT bullying can be physical, verbal or indirect. Often it is the language that can distinguish it from other forms and indicate that the motivation of the bullies is specific.

 ” . . . homophobia can be defined as an irrational dislike, hatred or fear of individuals that are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It results in negative consequences ranging from damage of self-esteem to premature death.” (Tackling Homophobic Bullying, NASUWT)

When Does it Take Place? 

Like any form of bullying it can occur at any time in a person’s life. However most homophobic bullying takes place at a time when young people are unsure about their own developing identity - subjected as they are to the confusing messages our society sends out about what it means to be ‘a man’ and against the stereotype of what it means to be gay. Homophobia presents itself in young people as the fear of and the reaction to an issue about which they can have little understanding and to a person perceived as ‘different’.

 Unfortunately the use of homophobic language is widespread amongst young people, and though it is often not directed at individuals, it helps create a climate in which LGBTQ young people often feel unsafe.



Who Gets Bullied?

 Anyone can become a victim of HBT bullying.

Teenagers who have misjudged their best friend by confiding in them only to find themselves ‘outed’ are often the targets of this form of bullying. Heterosexual girls and boys who others think of as lesbian or gay can come under similar attack. Many young people taunted about their sexual orientation are, in reality, too young to know what sexuality is.


 Friends of lesbian and gay young people are frequently forced to face up to their own prejudices, fears and preconceptions whilst regularly finding themselves the targets of homophobia by being ‘guilty by association’.


 Brothers and sisters of bullied siblings are also often victimised.


 Children of a lesbian or gay parent can often be vulnerable to homophobic abuse from peers should their family situation become known.

How Can Homophobic Bullying Affect Young People?


Young people can have their education disrupted. They may not participate in lessons appropriately due to feelings of fear or anger.


Pupils’ self-esteem is often severely affected and, as a result, their academic potential is not fulfilled.


Young people whose fears and confusions are not adequately dealt with in their youth too often go on to develop problems in adulthood including depressive disorders or dependencies upon alcohol and drugs.


HBT bullying is widespread and schools which don’t actively address the problem are not helping any of their young people to develop a concern for the well-being of others and an understanding and healthy acceptance of people’s difference.

LGBTQ young people can find themselves seriously stressed by having to wrestle with their own feelings about themselves and the problems other people have in coming to terms with their sexual orientation.



Too many victims of homophobic bullying are driven to self-harm and suicide.

Key Findings of Stonewall's 2017 School Report:

  • ​Nearly half of LGBT pupils (45 per cent) – including 64 per cent of trans pupils – are bullied for being LGBT in Britain’s schools. This is down from 55 per cent of lesbian, gay and bi pupils who experienced bullying because of their sexual orientation in 2012 and 65 per cent in 2007

  • Half of LGBT pupils hear homophobic slurs ‘frequently’ or ‘often’ at school, down from seven in 10 in 2012

  • Seven in 10 LGBT pupils report that their school says that homophobic and biphobic bullying is wrong, up from half in 2012 and a quarter in 2007. However, just two in five LGBT pupils report that their schools say that transphobic bullying is wrong

  • Just one in five LGBT pupils have been taught about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships

  • More than four in five trans young people have self-harmed, as have three in five lesbian, gay and bi young people who aren’t trans

  •  More than two in five trans young people have attempted to take their own life, and one in five lesbian, gay and bi students who aren’t trans have done the same

School Case Studies:

Stoke Newington, London 

Court Fields, Somerset

St Dunstan's, Somerset

Is Being Gay the Problem?

 No! It’s not being gay that makes some young people unhappy – it's the negative reaction of other people that they fear, coming to terms with being ‘different’ and coping with it that’s difficult. It is even harder if this has to be done in secrecy from family, friends and teachers.

 LGBTQ people of all ages can find themselves emotionally exhausted by having to reconcile how they are feeling inside with the problems others have in coming to terms with their sexual orientation.​

Useful websites and Local Support Groups:



2BU - Somerset’s support group for LGBTQ young people – this is a brief case study of their work with one young person:                                                      It is OK to be gay Jonathon’s story

EACH - EACH is a Bristol based, national organisation with a freephone helpline for children experiencing homophobic bullying: 0808 1000 143. It's open Monday to Friday 10am - 5pm


Schools Out

Useful Documents: 

LGBT Booklist for Primary Schools and Early Years Settings - No Outsiders Project May 2008
This booklist was prepared for a project run by the University of Sunderland. As the project ended in 2008 it will not contain any recent publications and some of the books on the list are likely to be out of print, but it may still be useful for teachers looking the children’s books that challenge traditional ideas about families and gender identities

Stonewall Education Resources



An extensive range of reports and practical classroom resources (keep clicking on the LOAD MORE button at the bottom of the page to see full range). Currently, these include:


  • Getting Started guides for primary/secondary school
  • A range of DVDs for all ages
  • Resources for tackling homophobic language
  • A guide for parents who think their child may be gay
  • A Coming Out guide for young people
  • Guidance on working with faith communities


 Stonewall Resources for Primary Schools

Stonewall Resources for Secondary Schools


Posters and Other Resources Produced by Somerset's 2BU Youth Group and Out for Our Children: 



This page includes the attractive ‘Real Families Rock’ posters – downloadable in A3 and A4 format


This page includes example children’s books and booklists


This page includes early years resources.

Out For Our Children is a national organisation working to create a positive environment for children of same-sex parents in nurseries, play-groups and schools by producing and promoting representations of diverse families, with a particular focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-parented children