National

LGBT bullying rife in schools: survey

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

About 70 percent of sexual minorities have experienced bullying in school and 30 percent have thought about committing suicide, according to a survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The survey on the school lives of LGBTs, the first large-scale study undertaken in Japan, found that 68 percent of the 609 respondents experienced bullying in elementary, junior high or high school.

Among them, 53 percent were verbally abused and 49 percent were ignored or excluded from groups. Some 20 percent experienced physical bullying and 11 percent suffered sexual abuse, such as having their clothes taken off by classmates, according to the report, released Wednesday.

The survey was conducted by Inochi Risupekuto Howaito Ribon Kyanpen (which translates as “the life respect white ribbon campaign”), a Tokyo-based group engaged in suicide prevention for LGBTs. The online poll was conducted between October and December on people between 10 and 35.

All respondents had spent their school years in the Kanto region.

The results showed most of the bullies were classmates, but 12 percent said they were bullied by teachers. A majority were bullied for over a year.

Abuse periods were especially long for boys with gender identity disorder, with 43 percent saying they were bullied for more than five years.

Despite the victimization, about half said they had no one to talk to about the bullying. The survey found that 32 percent thought of committing suicide, with 22 percent saying they had injured themselves, such as by cutting their wrists.

Mameta Endo, co-leader of the group, urged teachers send a positive message about LGBT’s at schools.

“More teachers need to know the issues LGBTs are facing. As most bullying starts at elementary schools, I want teachers to provide children correct information about sexual minorities,” she said.

“The survey also found that boys with gender identity disorder have faced especially harsh bullying for not being manly. Schools need to find ways to teach students about LGBTs to prevent those who don’t match stereotypical ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ gender types from being bullied,” Endo said.