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HBT bullying and SEN/disability

We spoke to disabled young people and those with special educational needs (SEN) to find out how schools can improve sex and relationships education (SRE) and how they can tackle bullying of LGBT disabled young people. We also conducted a literature review and combined them all to create resources for schools.

What does the research tell us?

  • The limited research available suggests that disabled children and those with SEN are at an increased risk of experiencing HBT bullying.

  • A survey of UK LGBT youth found two thirds (66%) of disabled children and those with SEN had experienced homophobic bullying, compared to 55% among the sample as a whole.

  • A study found that among LGBT adolescents in the US, almost 20% had been verbally bullied because of a real or perceived disability, and 7% physically harassed.

  • Some smaller studies have also found that among victims of homophobic bullying, over a third reported being bullied because of a disability or SEN.

For references please see guides at the bottom of this page.

It’s important for disabled young people to learn about LGBTQ too. They might not be able to access information in the same way as non- disabled young people.

Young people in PE image

It’s like people think you can be disabled or LGBT – but not both.

The disabled young people we spoke to told us:

  • That being a disabled young person meant they were often not believed when reporting bullying and when they said they were LGBT+

  • That teachers in school had a poor understanding about disability and LGBT+ issues, which a ected young people’s willingness and ability to report bullying.

  • That they experienced both HBT and disablist bullying in school. “It’s a double whammy”

  • That they often have to come out twice. Once as a disabled person and as LGBT+.

  • That they had seen HBT and disablist bullying ignored in school and that it a ected their con dence and their willingness to report bullying.

  • That the use of HBT and/or disablist language in school was rife and that it was rarely challenged in schools.

  • That they were made to feel that bullying was their own fault because of being disabled or LGBT+.

  • That bullying made them not feel able to come out and/or try to hide their impairment.


28 May 2017