Experiences from Ireland
Young lesbians in Ireland described their experience of homophobic bullying in a survey conducted by the NGO BeLonG To. One said “I have been a victim of homophobic bullying on many occasions, in and out of school. I have been physically attacked three times in the last five years. I have been verbally insulted because of my sexuality by a teacher and by students.
I have also seen others experience homophobic bullying. For example, people in school who are perceived as camp are called gay persistently, and my friends get names shouted at them. It had an immense impact on me, to the point where I knew I couldn’t live in a country that allowed this behaviour and, at one point, I thought about suicide. I never reported the bullying, even when I was physically assaulted, as I believed that nothing would be done about it. Having a support network, belonging to the BeLonG To youth group, being among people who understand and knowing that I’m not the only one going through homophobic bullying has helped me.”
Another reported similar experiences. “I’ve had words such as dyke and queer screamed at me on the streets and in school, and been ‘squared up’ to. I’ve also seen other people attacked and verbally abused. Bullying made me feel horrible, depressed and self hating. I ended up going to counselling for three years. After years I reported the bullying to school officials, and the bullies were punished. I had the support of friends and the teachers were amazing. There was also a counselling service at school.” Other female learners surveyed said that homophobic bullying “made me look forward to changing schools…. it also made me miss a lot of days at school, because I just didn’t want to go in” and “I used to ditch school, or lock myself in the school bathrooms and self harm. I felt unwanted”.