A new survey released for IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) has shown that over three-quarters of gay students in China were victims of bullying at school.
The survey with 421 gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight students found that 77% were the victim of one of 17 types of school bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In response to the bullying, 42% reported depression, 23% reported a loss of interest in learning and 26% said they were driven to binge drinking, self-harm, thoughts of suicide or sex with strangers.
In more in-depth interviews with selected students the survey heard from Xiaowu, a 22-year-old transgender who feels male but is biologically female. He lived in a dorm during junior high school and bullying against him reached a zenith when a girl forced him to wash publicly in front of a group of other girls. Xiaowu didn’t tell any classmates or teachers about the incident but skipped classes, lived in constant fear and became depressed.
Another student Xiao Wei told about when he told a trusted school counsellor he was gay she wrote a record of the conversation, asked Xiao Wei to sign it and then he was punished by the school. Xiao Wei had been happy and confident at school but this incident destroyed his trust in the education system.
Conducted by Aibai Culture and Education Center and the Associated Gay/Les Campus, the survey shows that China is not immune to the global problem of homophobic bullying in schools.
The survey was released at The Netherlands Embassy in Beijing at a press conference this week to coincide with IDAHO. The Deputy Dutch Ambassador Willem van Ee said: ‘We all have the rights to be ourselves. To be different. These are basic, fundamental human rights that are the core values of our civilisation.’
Li Hongyan from the UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) office in China was also at the press conference. He talked about the actions taken by the UN to deal with this ‘global problem’. He said that data showed that bullying had prompted 600 million LGBT students around the world to drop out of school.
Li pointed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s historic speech in in which he condemned violence against LGBT people.
To follow-up from the survey Aibai, Beijing LGBT Center, the Associated Gay/Les Campus and the UNESCO Office in China announced that they would run anti-bullying activities and teacher training on campuses all over China. And they will distribute a cartoon brochure educating schools about eliminating bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
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