The Impacts of Homophobia

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Heterosexism and homophobia in the school environment. In the United States, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) publishes the results of the National School Climate Survey every two years on the school experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. It shows that the manifestations of homophobia in schools are plural and take sometimes the appearance of a physical violence (jostling, blows, unwanted sexual touching), sometimes those of a less direct denigration (rumors, setting to the gap, cyberbullying). 40.1% of 7261 students surveyed in the 2009 school year reported having been physically abused because of their sexual orientation, and 27.2% because of gender non-compliance3 (Kosciw et al. , 2010). Respondents also report the popularity of insults and homosexual remarks in school to minimize an individual, a thing or an event (“”that’s so gay””).

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Canadian studies at the local, provincial or national level confirm these findings. Non-heterosexual students in the greater Montreal area report living in a homophobic school environment that is intolerant of sexual diversity (?‰mond and Bastien-Charlebois, 2007). According to the BC Adolescent Health Survey, LGB adolescents are more likely than heterosexuals of the same age to report being victimized, excluded from school activities, or physically attacked at school in the year preceding the survey (Saewyc et al., 2007). The First National Climate Survey on Homophobia in Canadian Schools outlines the importance of the role that gender nonconformity can play in school-based discrimination. More than half of LGBTQ4 students (57%) and one-quarter (25.5%) of heterosexual students report having been verbally harassed at school because of their gender nonconformity. For example, a heterosexual adolescent may be subject to homophobic violence because his “”overly feminine”” appearance unites him in spite of sexual diversity (Taylor and Peter, 2011).

The construction of sexual norms and that of the masculine and feminine genres are closely related processes. Studies have shown that homophobic intolerance is also applicable to any individual whose characteristics or behavior diverge from models of masculinity and femininity, regardless of their sexual orientation (Chamberland et al., 2007 ). For several authors(Thiers-Vidal, 2010, Bastien-Charlebois, 2011, Calasanti, 2003), homophobia is a means of imposing hegemonic masculinity within the group of men.Hegemonic masculinity refers to the dominant type of masculinity in the cultural representations of a given society.Homophobia can also play a role in the construction of female identity. In fact, whether they target men or women, homophobic practices are rooted in the same socio-political system that produces the differentiated positions of men and women in the social relations of sex. Homophobia directed against men can be used to punish those who jeopardize what the privileged position of men and the subordinate position of women rest. According to Hamilton (2007), women who adopt homophobic behaviors against other women can do so to assert in their own eyes and those of others a female identity that receives the approval of men. Homophobic practices, which can be described as lesbophobic when directed towards women, are intended to reassign lesbians and women who adopt attitudes that do not conform to normative expectations related to their gender, the women’s category (Chamberland and Lebreton, 2012).


The documented impacts of episodes of homophobia are numerous and affect both academic achievement and the mental health of youth who are victims (Saewyc, 2011, Goodenow et al., 2006). According to a review of the effects of bullying, many of the immediate consequences of victimization (insomnia, isolation, nervousness, etc.) can have a major impact on the performance of victimized students and on their ability to continue their academic progress (or perseverance). (Warwick et al., 2004). For LGBTQ students, anxiety about negotiating their visibility or anticipating peer taunts would also have a negative impact on their sense of safety and belonging to the school (Taylor and Peter, 2011). According to GLSEN data, a significant proportion of these students report not feeling safe at school. Many would miss classes or absent for a full day for this reason (Kosciw et al., 2010). They are also more likely than their heterosexual peers not to want to finish high school or not to go to university. These data were collected from young people attending school and do not include those who have already left the ranks. School pathways are influenced by several psychosocial, family, institutional, socio-economic and cultural variables, the effects of which are twisted and grow over time. However, absenteeism, perceived insecurity, a low sense of belonging to the school and limited educational aspirations are all indicators of increased risk of dropping out of school, or of less academic perseverance (DeBlois and Lamothe , 2005).

The impacts of homophobia in schools differ little from those of other types of peer discrimination (Murdock & Bolch, 2005). However, we know little about the potential disparities in the effects of homophobia on school perseverance based on the self-identification of the students who are victims of homophobia, or the way in which these effects decline according to the frequency of victimization episodes. Three research questions will mark this article. How can homophobic violence reported in high school vary according to the profile of the students who are victimized (particularly with respect to sex and self-reported sexual orientation)? Are the impacts of homophobia on school perseverance the same for heterosexual or non-heterosexual students? Do these impacts worsen when victimization is more frequent?


As part of the research “”The Impact of Homophobia and Homophobic Violence on Student Persistence and Success”” (Chamberland et al., 2010), 2,747 students in the 3rd and Secondary 56 of 30 public schools, spread across Quebec, completed a self-administered questionnaire between February and June 2009.7 Sampling was done in two stages: first by selecting institutions, taking into account their size, location and language of instruction (French or English), then by selecting classes where all students were invited to respond. The response rate obtained was high, considering that 90% of the number of questionnaires initially targeted were actually completed. Our survey is therefore representative of Quebec as a whole, which contributes to the durability and reliability of the data and facilitates more detailed statistical analyzes, while respecting the criteria for their application

Socio-demographic, 47.4% (n = 1301) of respondents are male and 52.6% (n = 1444) are female. Almost all of them are between the ages of 14 and 17 inclusive (95.7%, n = 2612) and for the entire sample, the average age is 15.8 years. Respondents come from schools spread geographically across Quebec. Finally92.0% (n = 2453) self-identified as heterosexual, while 8.0% of respondents (n = 213) identified themselves as gay or lesbian, bisexual, queer or questioning their sexual orientation (now LGBT).

Measures of homophobic victimization and school perseverance. The questionnaire focused on perceptions of school climate related to sexual diversity and homophobia, and the possible impacts of homophobic victimized heterosexuals, non-victimized LGBTs and victimized LGBTs. This variable was named “”Class of Students””. Finally, a “”Victimization Score”” was created by adding the victimized heterosexuals, non-victimized LGBQs and victimized LGBTs. This variable was values ‹‹obtained to estimate the frequency of victimization. So, a student who has never lived whoever would have all experienced them several times a week would get a score of 36 (9 X 4). whereas a student exclusion of non-victimized students after one or the other of the proposed types of incidents obtains a victimization score of 0,. This score whoever would have all experienced them several times a week would get a score of 36 (9 X 4). After measures the frequency of incidents, not their severity. So,weak OR WELL he or she got hustled, hit, kicked less than once, a score of 4 may mean that a student has been insulted, teasing badly many times by times a week and has been the subject of gossip in order to damage his reputation . School perseverance was measured using four variables. The first, absenteeism start of this school year, have you ever missed school days because you did not want to due to a feeling of insecurity in school? The second variable, having changed or wanted to change schools, start of this school year, have you ever missed school days because you did not feel well? Have you ever changed OR wanted to change high school because you not safe? The third, referring to achieve.ment. The responses were divided between the stated desire to pursue educational aspirations : What is the highest level of education that you expect to achieve? The fourth variable, Composed of sense of belonging to the school environment, was assessed through the Psychological Sense of 18 items, it helps determine how much the students feel personally School Membership (Goodenow, 1993), a standardized psychometric scale. Composed of accepted, respected, understood and supported by others (students, teachers) in their school. The 18 items, it helps determine how much the students feel personally The pupils were asked to indicate their level of agreement on a five-point Likert-type scale, ranging from accepted, respected, understood and supported by others (students, teachers) in their school. The 1 (Strongly disagree) to 5 (Totally agree). By adding the answers for each to indicate their level of agreement on a five-point Likert scale ation on school perseverance. To measure homophobic victimization, we asked the following question followed by a list of nine types of incidents: Since the beginning of the school year, how often have you personally experienced the following situations because you think that you are gay, lesbian or bisexual OR because you are gay, lesbian or bisexual? 9 A numerical value has been assigned to each answer: 0 = never; 1 = less than once a month; 2 = less than once a week; 3 = about once a week; 4 = several times a week. Subsequently, we divided our participants into four distinct groups based on sexual orientation and whether or not they had at least one homophobic incident: non-victimized heterosexuals.

Statistical analyzes

Our statistical analyzes are presented in two stages, starting with the data on the student identification (heterosexual versus LGBT) and gender. Then we meet the prevalence of victimization for the nine types of homophobic incidents, according to the each of our variables to assess school perseverance with the variables “”Category student identification (heterosexual versus LGBT) and gender. Then we meet students “”and”” Victimization Score “”. The Chi-square statistical test allows us, in most each of our variables to assess school perseverance with the variables “”Category cases, to decide whether the differences observed are significant (maximum error risk retained: 5%). students “”and”” Victimization Score “”.in cases where averages are involved, either for the sense of belonging to the middle modalities of the same variable, we compare their mean score using the ANOVA test. Eta is the association measure presented and the maximum unrealized risk which remains 5%.

Analyzing and discussing

Compared to our first objective of comparing the prevalence of homophobic incidents according to the student profile, our most interesting result is certainly the fact that students self-identifying as heterosexuals also report being victims of homophobia by their peers.Just over a third of them report having experienced such an incident at least once during the last 6 to 8 months. This can be explained by the fact that they may be the target, while as much as their LGBT peers, of violence penalizing gender nonconformity, or denigrating a person by associating it with the opposite sex. Frequent use of insults or referring expressions pejorative to homosexuality in school is probably not unrelated to this result. In any case, this tends to reinforce the idea that the derogation from the expectations standards assigned to each gender can be sanctioned by peers, for example boys who have a gesture or activities that are considered feminine (musical tastes, hobbies, style clothing) (Pascoe, 2007, Bastien-Charlebois, 2011).

These results corroborate those obtained by Taylor and Peter (2011), particularly in terms of verbal harassment. If studies on school climate and homophobia are leaning usually on the experiences of LGBT students, they would be better off including those of students heterosexuals. Non-compliance with dominant gender models seems to make young people all sexual orientations vulnerable to homophobic victimization. It is important to keep in mind that proportionally speaking, LGBT students are almost twice as likely to live homophobic incidents (69.0%) than those identifying as heterosexual (35.4%)

With regard to sex differences, in general, among young people heterosexual, boys are more often victims than girls of verbal abuse (insults, taunts) and physical (shoving, threats). This difference is not observed statistically at LGBT youth. Girls of all sexual orientations undergo more sexual advances insistent and unwanted touching. Among young heterosexuals, girls report more serious sexual incidents than boys, while this gap is fading among LGBs. These observations raise the question of the nature of peer pressure for sanctions for breaches of sexual and gender norms, depending on whether they are by boys or girls and, more broadly, the gendered nature of the processes inculcation of these standards (Hamilton, 2007). Finally, girls in general are more often victims cyberbullying, a finding that joins the results of a survey of education in Quebec (Allaire, 2011). These results are to be interpreted with caution given limited enrollment on the LGBT youth side.

As for the impact of homophobia on school perseverance, we wondered if varied by sexual orientation of students, both victimized and non-victimized, and increased with the frequency of homophobic incidents. We can say that LGBT students victims, proportionally, are the most likely to have been absent from school because of insecurity, followed by victimized heterosexuals and non-victimized LGBQs. These results suggest that school absenteeism due to perceived insecurity would not be so much a function of sexual orientation as of victimization homophobic. Moreover, as much for LGBT students as for heterosexual students, indicates a significant increase in absenteeism as victimization frequency.

We can also confirm that homophobia is associated with having already changed or wanted to change school. Nearly half of victimized LGBT respondents said that this is / has already been the case because of the bullying and harassment experienced. The proportions are similar for victimized heterosexuals and non-victimized LGBTs, about 20%. This last data can indicate a perceived discomfort with the LGBT school environment, even in the absence of victimization, or to refer to older victimization experiences, the wording of the question does not specify a temporal reference. Anyway, the higher the victimization Homophobic is common, the proportion of students who have changed or wished to change schools is high. This is true for victimized heterosexual students, and even more so for students

LGBT victimized.

LGBT students, victimized or not, more likely to report academic aspirations limited to secondary level. In addition, regardless of student self-identification, obtaining a high score of victimization clearly has an impact on educational aspirations. Finally, by the sense of belonging to the school community, victimized LGBTs show the lowest score on the Goodenow scale, while non-victimized heterosexual students display the highest score. Victimized heterosexual students and non-victimized LGBT students get a similar average score. Again, students who experience very frequent victimization (especially LGBTs) have the lowest score on the membership scale. In sum, the consequences of homophobia are more marked among LGBQ students than among students heterosexuals. Moreover, there is a worsening of these consequences as the Homophobic victimization is more common.

Compared to differences by sex, the only ones observed are absenteeism more marked in heterosexual girls victimized, as well as expressed or realized desire to change school, more common among victimized girls of all sexual orientations. In students non-victimized heterosexuals – but not in other groups, girls show stronger sense of belonging to the school and are proportionally more numerous than boys to aspire to higher education. These data refer to the differences already observed between boys and girls in terms of perseverance in high school, notwithstanding any victimization. Tracks explanations for such differences relate, on the one hand, to social and family background, on the other hand to the relationship between academic achievement and adherence to gender stereotypes, including girls would be more free, hence their better academic performance and an increase in their aspirations (MELS 2005, Bouchard and St-Amant 1996). Our results indicate that victimization seems to have the effect of nullifying this benefit, which benefits girls and calls for more the complex relationship to school culture that takes into account gender, class social orientation, sexual orientation and victimization experiences.


Homophobia episodes at school target self-identifying students LGBT, but also those who claim to be heterosexual, suggesting that it is not the homosexual or bisexual orientation that these episodes punish, but the derogation any one of the implicit norms of masculinity or femininity. Moreover, it seems that equal victimization, the effects on school perseverance are more pronounced among students LGBT only among their heterosexual peers. It can be concluded that LGBT youth more likely to internalize the negative perceptions of homosexuality conveyed by their peers and less able to distance themselves cognitively. Also, we can assume that they are less likely than victimized heterosexuals to be able to rely on the support of their friends or family members, to the extent that denouncing homophobia could bring them to disclose their orientation in spite of themselves.

These results inform several lines of intervention to counter homophobia in schools and to minimize the impact on the perseverance of young people who are victims. Firstly, they raise the need to put an end to the trivialization of certain forms of homophobia to encourage a global concerted and coherent intervention led by all the actors in the field school. These actions should be based on an explicit policy against.

Homophobia in school. In addition, our results support the importance for schools of set up parallel support measures for LGBT students who are victims of homophobia school.

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The Impacts of Homophobia. (2019, Jul 29). Retrieved December 1, 2022 , from

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