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Schoolmates, bullying and homophobia in school projet

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The Schoolmates project is a trans-national project promoted by Arcigay (the Italian lesbian and gay association) in partnership with COLEGA Madrid, KPH Warsaw and the City of Vienna. The project is co-financed by the European Commission in the framework of the Daphne II programme.

In partner countries strong prejudice and bias towards homosexuals are manifest and can lead to exclusion, ostracism, psychological and verbal assault toward people who are or seem to be homosexuals.

Such situation is more evident in schools, where bullying is particularly pervasive and often motivated by xenophobia or homophobia. More evident and more harmful, since victims are adolescents, that is persons in the process of developing their personality, self-representation and sexual identity.

In schools, among adolescents, offensive remarks towards homosexuals, insults, sometimes accompanied by threats or physical violence, are common: a survey carried out in Italy in 1999 pointed out that 3 homosexuals out of 4, both males and females, have been a victim of verbal assault or physical violence, motivated by their sexual orientation, in school.

Furthermore, silence and biases by school workers, including teachers, and peers on this subject transmit highly pejorative values towards homosexuals. This attitude strengthens the sense of vulnerability and isolation felt by homosexual adolescents who face bullying and assaults. This situation triggers a vicious mechanism: the adolescent victim of an assault, conscious of living in a potentially hostile environment, will not inform school workers or seek help, further isolating him or herself; thus, he or she becomes an easier target of bullying.

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