Zen Mode 5 MIN READ 100 VIEWS April 8, 2022

National Day of Silence: Understanding the Impact of Bullying on LGBTQ+

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

National Day of Silence

National Day of Silence is celebrated in the United States, New Zealand and Singapore as a mark of protest against the unexplained bullying and harassment inflicted on the members of LGBTQ+ community. Students in schools and colleges too are the victims of this harassment due to prejudiced mindset and the lack of awareness.

Students or members of this community who take part in the protest vow to undergo a day-long silence to show to the world how LGBTQ+ community were pushed into silence by abuse and bullying arising out of hatred and ignorance. This symbolic movement first began in 1966 by the students of the University of Virginia who initiated the protest as a type of class assignment. By the next year, the event assumed the identity of a national movement. And, since then, the importance of the movement has grown and spread to other parts of the world in order to shed light on the psychological and physical problems that the LGBTQ+ community has been facing.

LQBTQ+ and Bullying

A study conducted by The Trevor Project has revealed that the impacts of bullying on the LGBTQ+ community have a cascading effect throughout their life, including a higher incidence of attempts to commit suicide.

As part of the survey, about 52% of students enrolled in schools had been bullied in some form or the other either in person or the virtual world. Younger people experienced higher rates of bullying as opposed to their adult counterparts. Out of all the communities, the transgender group has been the most victimised with as many as 80% being targets of bullying. The problem has grown from a mere social concern to a wider public health issue because it has led to an increase in the development of depression, anxiety, and fear amongst the group.

Types of Bullying

Whether your child identifies with being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or not, universally you will come across six different types of bullying:

1. Physical

This is the most predominant and easy form of bullying where kids who are seemingly stronger, more aggressive, and bigger will display their physical prowess and dominance over those who are ‘weaker’. Physical bullying manifests itself in hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, and shoving.

2. Verbal

Those who actively take part in verbal bullying will pick their targets based on the way they behave, look, and act in public. They will use name-calling and other forms of verbal abuse to belittle, hurt, and damage the self-esteem of the victim. They do this to gain power and control over their target.

3. Relational Aggression

Relational aggression is commonly employed by girls to spread rumours and manipulate situations to increase their social standing. This kind of bullying is mostly emotional and the aim is to insult, tease, intimidate, and make the target group or an individual feel excluded and break their confidence.

4. Sexual

Sexual bullying includes name-calling and making crude gestures or suggestive comments about a person’s appearance, sexual activity, or sexual development. Girls are mostly on the receiving end of this type of bullying and perpetrators can include both boys and girls. In very severe cases, sexual bullying can lead to sexual assault.

5. Cyber

Cyberbullying is a growing issue these days due to the predominance of digital technology in our lives wherein all of us are plugged in 70% of the time. Cyberbullying can include threats, sending pornographic images, and posting hurtful texts or e-mails by which perpetrators want to insult, humiliate, harass, and keep their targets oppressed.  

Cyberbullies often resort to comments or actions that they lack the courage to do or say in their real life. The use of technology keeps their identity anonymous and protected. Notably, when adults are involved, it is referred to as cyberstalking or cyber harassment.

6. Prejudicial

This kind of bullying involves hatred, disdain, and disgust toward people belonging to different races, colours, religions, and sexual orientations. It often ends in hate crime or hate speech.

Impact of Bullying

Bullying is negative and dangerous and also leaves a lasting impact. Those who understand the effects of bullying or have been bullied understand the consequences of it no matter in any form. However, the act of not being able to understand the consequences is referred to as the ‘empathy gap’. The negative impacts can be as follows:

1. Social and Emotional Impact

This takes a toll on a person’s self-esteem wherein he/she finds it challenging to make friends and maintain healthy relationships throughout the life.

2. Academic Impact

Kids exposed to bullying find it difficult to concentrate on their studies and notice grades slipping. The victims of bullying are unable to engage themselves completely in the learning process as they are always suffering from anxiety about being bullied and harassed.

3. Physical Impact

Worrying constantly about being bullied in school or college will impact the physical health of such students as they are likely to suffer from constant stress which may lead to a variety of issues like stomach ulcers, headache, stomach ache, nausea, heart problems, and skin diseases.

4. Impact on Family

Whether a child is being bullied or is engaging in bullying, parents feel powerless and start to question their parenting abilities. They feel isolated and alone and this takes a toll on their emotional well-being. This can create an unhealthy environment within the household and impact the bond between the child and the parents or siblings.

How Pro LGBTQ+ People can Provide Support?

Oftentimes, if you are being bullied, asking for help can feel embarrassing. Children or young adults should look for adults or peers who are kind and compassionate and should try to confide in them. One needs to be sensitive and understanding in this situation.

As educators and guardians, you can engage the child in experiential learning where students can watch videos on LGBTQ+ support wherein people are sharing their life experiences and how they overcame their situations. The Trevor Project has put forward the acronym C-A-R-E if you are noticing symptoms of suicide or emotional imbalance in someone you know closely:

  • C = Connect with that person
  • A = Ask them directly about the situation
  • R = Respond with empathy, kindness, and sensitivity
  • E = Empower the victim with knowledge and unconditional support to overcome the trying time in the life

Conclusion

While no one can predict who might engage in bullying, institutions, whether schools or colleges, can take steps to make members of the LGBTQ+ community feel safe and protected. One of the ways of achieving this includes implementing a zero-tolerance policy wherein severe action will be taken against those found perpetrating bullying. Additionally, the administration should set up gender and sexuality alliances and regular awareness campaigns must be undertaken as part of the academic curricula to spread the word about the negative impacts of bullying, identifying the signs that someone is being bullied, and ways to seek help. This National Day of Silence is a reminder for you to advocate inclusivity of the members of LGBTQ+ community and eliminate hatred against them.

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