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Teachers can also be bullies: LGBT youth at school

16 September 2021

Researchers Tessa Kaufman (Utrecht University) and Laura Baams (University of Groningen) are the first to use nationally representative data to reveal the school experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) school pupils in the Netherlands.

The LGBT youth who participated in this study identified as being attracted to adolescents of the same gender and/or as a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth. The experiences of these LGBT youth were compared to those of their heterosexual, cisgender peers. ‘Our research showed that LGBT youth were more likely to be bullied by school staff, such as teachers or other staff, and that this was also more likely to take place in locations where there was a lack of supervision, such as changing rooms, toilets, bicycle or car parks, or online,’ explains Tessa Kaufman, assistant professor at Utrecht University. The LGBT youth in this study also felt less safe to report these experiences. If the LGBT youth did report their experiences, they were less likely to do so at school or to their parents, but were more likely to report to the police. But, for LGBT youth, their reports were subsequently less likely to be resolved than those submitted by their heterosexual, cisgender peers.

‘Our findings demand that action be taken, for example to better monitor the experiences of LGBT youth. Schools should, for instance, have to provide clearer information, right from the start of the school year, about how to report bullying, also anonymously if desired. In addition, it is extra important to work on safe schooling for everyone; for example, in the form of GSAs (gender and sexuality alliances).’

More information

  • Open access article
  • Tessa Kaufman is an assistant professor at the Department of Education & Pedagogy at Utrecht University. She obtained her PhD from the University of Groningen last year for her dissertation on the topic of the chronic victimhood of bullying.
  • Laura Baams is an assistant professor at the Department of Pedagogical & Educational Sciences at the University of Groningen.
Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijsen
Photo: Robin van Lonkhuijsen
Last modified:16 September 2021 3.41 p.m.
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