Bullying in Schools: LGBT Adults Report Higher Incidence of Bullying as well as Being Bullied

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Tomorrow, the annual GLSEN Day of Silence will again call attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. In this light, parents, students and educators alike continue to be alarmed at unacceptably high levels of bullying that adversely affect environments at school, at home and online. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, those reported experiences again tell a harsh and unique perspective – in greater number of incidents of experienced bullying as well as their own recollections of bullying others.

Over half of all LGBT adults (52%) say they recall being bullied while at school, contrasted with 43% of all adults. Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director, adds, “Once again, data confirms that LGBT people – as students and adults – are more likely to face bullying than their peers. Over our 25 years of work, we have made progress in reducing the extreme rates of bullying, harassment and violence that LGBT students face daily, but we must continue to close the gap. With every GLSEN program, initiative and campaign, our ultimate goal remains the same – we seek to ensure that the next generation of LGBT adults will report having had fewer experiences of bullying in childhood, and a greater climate of respect for all in their everyday lives.”

Strikingly, nearly a quarter (24%) of LGBT respondents state that they also bullied someone else while they were in school, compared with 10% of all adults. It’s significant to note that this finding underscores that those who were bullied themselves are 3 times as likely as those who weren’t bullied to admit that they bullied someone else. Bob Witeck, President of Witeck Communications, says, “It’s not surprising to learn that some individuals, including LGBT people who often are targets, can be found in both camps – as victims and also as perpetrators of bullying. Research suggests that hostile climates can reinforce vicious cycles of hurtful behaviors.”

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,219 U.S. adults surveyed online between February 17 and 22, 2016.

Cyber bullying stands out

Nearly 9 in 10 (86%) adults agree technology has made it easier to bully someone. Strikingly, by nearly 2-1, 37% of LGBT adults say they encountered cyber bullying, when compared with 20% of all adults. LGBT adults who have experienced bullying also report higher than average incidents of physical bullying. Three-quarters (75%) say they have experienced physical harm when compared with 68% of all respondents.

Causes of LGBT bullying

While adults tend to recall many reasons for experiencing or witnessing bullying in school, LGBT adults report these causes as among those most frequent in their own experiences:

  • Social awkwardness 64% (53% non-LGBT)
  • Sexual orientation 53% (21% non-LGBT)
  • Unusual qualities such as interests, fashion 52% (31% non-LGBT)
  • Race/ethnicity 43% (33% non-LGBT)
  • Non-conformance to gender stereotypes 39% (17% non-LGBT)
  • Gender identity 26% (13% non-LGBT)

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between February 17 and 22, 2016 among 2,219 adults. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population of whom 2,011 indicated they are heterosexual and 150 self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.  Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #26, April 14, 2016

By David Krane, Client Director, The Harris Poll

About Witeck Communications, Inc.

Witeck Communications, Inc. (www.witeck.com) is a leading strategic marketing communications firm, specializing in outreach, respect and inclusion for diverse LGBT communities. For nearly 25 years, Witeck Communications has served as a bridge between corporate America and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In 2003, American Demographics magazine identified Bob Witeck one of 25 experts over the last 25 years who has made significant contributions to the fields of demographics, market research, media and trend spotting for his path breaking work on the gay and lesbian market. He has appeared in worldwide media outlets including Fortune, CNBC, Daily Telegraph, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, Ad Age, the New York Times and the Washington Post.