Bullying Starts Early

A new report from GLSEN offers some startling revelations

Photo by Think Stock

“That’s so gay.” According to a new report from GLSEN, the word “gay” is being used by kids as early as elementary school – and not in a positive way. In the report, “Playgrounds and Prejudice,” the LGBT organization found that not only are gay taunts part of the bullying phenomenon, but that it begins at earlier ages than first imagined.

“Over the past few years, there has been an increase in research on bullying in schools, including elementary schools,” says Dr. Joseph Kosciw, one of the researchers. “However, our report is one of the few that examines bias-based bullying at the elementary school level and the first to examine incidents of homophobic remarks and the negative experiences of children who do not conform to societal standards in their gender expression.”

The report finds that 75 percent of students say they’ve been bullied. And almost 40 percent say it’s because they weren’t good at sports. And 26 percent are bullied because they do well academically.

Click here for more statistics.

To help students who are being bullied, GLSEN introduced a resource called “Ready, Set, Respect!” that addresses anti-gay bullying and gender expression for families, students and teachers. GLSEN’s Executive Director Eliza Byard describes it as “a new instructional resource informed by our findings to address homophobia, gender expression and LGBT-exclusive family diversity at the elementary school level.”

Byard admits that bullying can hit hard at any age – and have negative consequences. “School climate and victimization can affect students’ educational outcomes and personal development at every grade level,” she says. “The report also shows the need for elementary schools to do more to address issues of homophobia, gender expression and family diversity.”

Parents and teachers can register for a webinar by clicking here.