We know from research that lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gendered or questioning young people are targeted more by cyberbullies than their non-LGBTQ peers. This is called homophobic cyberbullying.
"92% of young people surveyed said they knew of web or social pages set up specifically to hurt someone who might be gay*
Watch the Youtube video titled 'LGBT Cyber-bullying Experiences', which shows bullying stories from LGBT young people.
When someone is targeted by cyberbullies the campaign can be relentless and cruel. In most cases homophobic bullying online is linked with face-to-face bullying.
The effects of homophobic cyberbullying can be devastating, especially at a time when a young person is trying to decide who they are and become more independent. Research from Stonewall suggests that young people targeted by homophobic cyberbullying often miss school so their grades suffer as a result. Add in the impact on your mental health (follow the link to our Mental Health and Wellbeing pages) and the consequences can continue for many years.
"It's okay to ask for help, because no one should put up with bullying on their own. Please talk to someone."
It's also important to note that homophobic bullying doesn't only happen to young people who are LGBTQ. Anyone who doesn't conform to ways of behaving that are traditionally associated with being “masculine” or “feminine”; people who stand up for their LGBTQ friends; and even people who don’t identify as LGBTQ can be victims of homophobic bullying and cyberbullying.
It is important to get help if you are being targeted by cyberbullies. It can be stopped and there are people and places to go to for support.
Find out more on our page about homophobic bullying.
Who to contact for help and support:
Outreach Youth - is a project set up to support young LGBTQ people in Suffolk. They hold regular meetings and social events and you can get in touch with them by text message, phone or email if you need someone to talk to. Text: 07895 342 202. Website: www.outreachyouth.org.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Childline - provide information, advice, support and tools to help you. You can get in touch anytime. Free Phone: 0800 1111. Website: www.childline.org.uk
Samaritans - Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. We're here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Freephone: 116 123. Email: email@example.com Visit their website: www.samaritans.org
Mermaids - is passionate about supporting children, young people, and their families to achieve a happier life in the face of great adversity. Phone: 0808 801 0400: Mon-Fri, 9am - 9pm. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit their website: mermaidsuk.org.uk
*2013 e-Safer Suffolk cybersurvey of 1685 children and young people
It's not all doom and gloom!
When we spoke to the young people at Outreach Youth (a youth club for LGBTQ young people), a lot of them said they found the internet a massive source of help and support. On a national scale 'Protect LGBT+ people' was one of the top five topics nationally coming out of the UK Youth Parliament's Make Your Mark ballot. People care.
As sexuality and gender is not often spoken about within schools, the internet can provide a way for young people to understand their identity and accept who they are. Some of the young people at Outreach Youth said the internet helped to reassure them that they aren't alone, and that there are plenty of other people like them.
The internet also provides a place for young people to make new friends and meet new people. LGBT couples are more likely than heterosexual couples to have started their relationship online. So young people who are LGBTQ might be more likely to chat to people online and decide to meet up in 'real life'.
Now, we all hear scary stories about meeting strangers online, but most young people are now well aware of the risks.
Starting new relationships online, whether romantically or as friends, can work out great for many people. The main thing to keep in mind is how to do it safely - have a look at these tips on meeting someone new in a safe way: www.themix.org.uk
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