Trigger warning: This post deals with homophobia and may be triggering for some readers.
High levels of homophobia among teenage boys are harming the mental health of young gay people and putting them at risk of suicide, according to a study commissioned by beyondblue.
It revealed a third of boys aged 14 to 17 would not be happy to have a same-sex attracted person in their friendship group and one in five found it hard to treat a gay person the same as others.
Forty per cent agreed they felt “anxious” or “uncomfortable” around same-sex attracted people.
A quarter said derogatory terms such as “homo” and “dyke” are “not really that bad”.
The chairman of beyondblue, Jeff Kennett, told Radio National the results were disturbing.
“Over half of those we surveyed have witnessed first hand people being bullied for their sexuality. Over half – now that’s of concern,” he said.
“And just under half said that they’d seen people bullied for the same reason on social media.
“That rings alarm bells for me because not only have we had deaths among young people who’ve been bullied on social media, we’ve had copycat deaths among young people.”
Awareness campaign launched to end discrimination
The findings reveal young males have more homophobic attitudes than the general public.
The findings have prompted beyondblue to launch a campaign to end lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) discrimination among teenagers, particularly boys.
It shows a group of boys bullying a left-handed teenager to highlight the absurdity of discriminating against people for being themselves.
Mr Kennett said there is often a much better understanding of the harmful effects of discrimination as teenagers mature.
Related content: Let’s commit to end homophobia.
“In this cohort of young people it still exists quite alarmingly and therefore this campaign is designed to continue to educate in order to reduce that level of discrimination and hurt,” he said.
“Sadly the LGBTI community perhaps suffers more serious depression, mental illnesses and suicide as a group than any other community in Australia.”
This article was originally published by the ABC and has been republished here with full permission.