Six in ten teenage boys had witnessed first-hand people being bullied for their sexuality and four in ten wouldn’t welcome a gay person into their friendship group.
These are some of the alarming findings from a study of 300 14-17 year-old males commissioned by the beyongblue organsiation in Australia.
The findings, which show a third of teenage boys wouldn’t be happy to have a same-sex attracted person in their friendship group and a quarter think it’s ok to describe something they don’t like as “gay”, come as beyondblue starts an Australian campaign again to end LGBTI discrimination among teenagers and young men.
Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman suggests Australian teenage boys are engaging in homophobia at an alarming rate.
“Research shows young males hold more homophobic attitudes than the general public and this latest study shows that, no matter what other gains have been made for LGBTI people, homophobia remains common among teenage boys,” Ms Harman said.
“This is particularly concerning given young LGBTI people are already three to six times more likely to be distressed than their straight peers.
“If we want to reduce their distress, we must reduce the discrimination they face.
“We know that high levels of distress have a strong link to depression, anxiety and suicide.”
As a result of the study beyondblue have revitalised the “Stop. Think. Respect” advertising campaign (first used in 2012) which will run for seven weeks in cinemas, on websites and on social media as it targets young males, with the expectation it will also cut through to the broader community.
The ad features a group of boys bullying a left-handed teenager, calling him a “freak”, to highlight the absurdity of discriminating against people just for being themselves.
Ms Harman said the campaign draws an analogy between discriminating against someone because they are left-handed and discriminating against someone who is not heterosexual.
“It wasn’t long ago that left-handed people were routinely discriminated against, told there was something wrong with them and forced to write with their right-hand. Thankfully that no longer happens.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for the discrimination faced by LGBTI people, who are still made to feel like crap just for being themselves.
For more details on the beyondblue Stop. Think. Respect. campaign visit their website beyondblue.org.au
The study was conducted by global marketing company TNS. It highlights the ways in which respondents view and treat same-sex attracted people including:
– One in five said they find it hard to treat same-sex attracted people the same as others.
– Six in 10 said they had witnessed first-hand people being bullied for their sexuality and four in 10 said they had seen people bullied for the same reason on social media.
– A quarter said terms such as “homo”, “dyke” and “confused” are “not really that bad”.
– Four in 10 either agreed that they felt anxious or uncomfortable around same-sex attracted people or did not disagree that they felt this way, while 23% think it’s ok to say something they don’t like is “gay” and 38% wouldn’t be happy if a same-sex attracted person was in their friendship group.
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