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Tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying for disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs

A guide for school staff

The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) spoke to disabled young people, including young people with physical, learning, and sensory impairments, deaf young people, young people with SEN, and young people who had experienced emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties. We use ‘disabled young people’ or ‘young people’ throughout this briefing to refer to all of the young people we spoke to. The young people we spoke to also identified as trans, non-binary, lesbian, gay and bisexual, and young people who had or were questioning their sexuality or gender identity. We also spoke to disabled young people who identified as heterosexual.

Young people told us their views and ideas about:

• sex and relationships education in school and what they learnt about LGBT+ issues, where else they got information about this, and their ideas for how disabled young people should be given better LGBT+ information.

• what schools could do to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying for disabled young people and young people with emotional or mental health difficulties.

The discussions were held with 33 disabled young people from within existing groups of children and young people who knew each other well and were used to discussing these topics together. This helped to make sure the young people were in an environment where they felt safe and confident to talk about the issues.

Research indicates that disabled children and those with special educational needs (SEN) are at an increased risk of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. A survey of UK LGBT youth found that two thirds of disabled children and those with SEN had experienced homophobic bullying, compared to 55% among the sample as a whole (Guasp, 2012). To date, little attention has been paid to this “minority within a minority and the intersectionality of bullying and abuse.” As part of this programme, a literature review was commissioned on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying among disabled children and those with SEN.