Sexist or sexual bullying is when a pupil (or group), usually repeatedly, harms another pupil or intentionally makes them unhappy because of their sex or because they may not be preceived to conform to typical gender norms. The root cause of these forms of bullying is gender inequality.
Sexist or sexual bullying are the not the same as homophobic bullying. However, very often, sexist attitudes manifest themselves in homophobic bullying and any young person who is perceived as not expressing stereotypically masculine or feminine behaviour expected of their sex, might experience homophobic bullying. Sexist or sexual bullying may also occur in conjunction with other forms of bullying, such as racist bullying or bullying related to special educational needs or disabilities or cyberbullying.
DCSF guidance, which also covers transphobic bullying, (see link on right-hand side) lists the following key messages for schools:
Sexist or sexual bullying is commonly underpinned by sexist, homophobic, or transphobic attitudes.
In order for these forms of bullying not to go unrecognised, schools must develop specific approaches for dealing with sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying that are aligned with their approaches to dealing with other forms of bullying.
Behaviours displayed as part of sexist. sexual and transphobic bullying are in many cases similar to those behaviours displayed in other forms of bullying, but may also be specifically characterised by inappropriate sexual behaviour. This can in extreme cases constitute sexual abuse.
Schools must always consider in cases of sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying where links need to be made with their safeguarding procedures or processes.
Girls are more commonly at risk from sexist and sexual bullying. However, boys also report being victims of sexist and sexual bullying. Boys and girls may be victims of transphobic bullying, particularly where they are not seen to conform to the gender roles that are dominant in the school environment or society more widely.