Playing it safe: addressing the emotional and physical health of lesbian and gay pupils in the U.K. Academic Article uri icon


  • Compared to young people in general, young lesbians and gay men can face specific challenges to their physical and emotional well-being. These include discrimination, victimization, homophobic bullying and an elevated suicide risk. Relative to initiatives which attempt to address bullying in general, little has been done in schools in the U.K. to address physical and verbal homophobic bullying. This paper reports on an exploratory study to examine teachers' perceptions of homophobic bullying, the responses made to this form of bullying, and the factors which impact on the provision of education and support to lesbian and gay pupils. Findings suggested that teachers were aware of homophobic bullying but were confused, unable or unwilling to address the needs of lesbian and gay pupils. Implications for policy, practice and research are discussed. While current U.K. Government policy promoting Healthy Schools and Citizenship education offers hope for the future, much remains to be done to ensure that such initiatives are inclusive of all pupils.

publication date

  • February 2001