Australian teenage boys are engaging in homophobia at an alarming rate, a new study has revealed, harming the mental health of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and intersex youth and placing them at risk of suicide.
The findings, which show a third of teenage boys wouldn’t be happy to have a same-sex attracted person in their friendship group and a quarter think it’s ok to describe something they don’t like as “gay”, come as beyondblue starts a national campaign again to end LGBTI discrimination among teenagers and young men.
The Stop. Think. Respect: Left Hand campaign features a cinema ad in which a group of boys bully a left-handed teenager, calling him a “freak”, to highlight the absurdity of discriminating against people just for being themselves. The campaign draws an analogy between discriminating against someone because they are left-handed and discriminating against someone who is not heterosexual.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harmansays it wasn’t long ago that left-handed people were routinely discriminated against, told there was something wrong with them, and forced to write with their right-hand.
“Sadly, the same can’t be said for the discrimination faced by LGBTI people, who are still made to feel like crap just for being themselves.”
Research shows young males hold more homophobic attitudes than the general public and this latest study shows that, no matter what other gains have been made for LGBTI people, homophobia remains common among teenage boys.
“This is particularly concerning given young LGBTI people are already three to six times more likely to be distressed than their straight peers. If we want to reduce their distress, we must reduce the discrimination they face. We know that high levels of distress have a strong link to depression, anxiety and suicide.”
beyondblue first launched the Stop. Think. Respect: Left Hand campaign in 2012, but there is now a new audience of teenage boys who clearly need to hear its messages. If we can change the views of these boys, it will benefit the whole community as they grow older with more informed and accepting attitudes.”
The campaign ads will run for seven weeks in cinemas, on websites, and on social media as it targets young males, with the expectation it will also cut through to the broader community. Underpinning the campaign is a study of more than 300 14-17 year-old males conducted by global marketing company TNS. It highlights the ways in which respondents view and treat same-sex attracted people.