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School Bullys Plague Gay Youth

in HONG KONG, 27/11/2011

Many gay and lesbian students in Hongkong do not know who to turn to for help when they get bullied at school.

A case in point is Ah Wing, who kept his sexual orientation secret for many years for fear of being bullied by classmates.

Eventually, when Ah Wing, 19, broke up with his boyfriend when he was in Form Five, his classmates found out.

“I was afraid of what people would think of me. When my classmates knew my secret they threw stones at me and teased me,” he said.

At other times he was forced to laugh along with the class when the teacher made derogatory remarks about homosexuals.

He said there were occasions when he skipped classes because of the bullying and on one occasion he even attempted to commit suicide.

Social worker Chau Chun-yam from the Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs Association said teacher training is insufficient to deal with these issues at school. “Teachers do not know how to counsel homosexual students and rarely address homosexuality in sex education classes.”

Joseph Cho Man-kit from Nutong Xueshe, a support group for homosexuals and bisexuals, said his group has approached schools to talk about homophobic bullying but some rejected their suggestion saying it is an attempt to advocate homosexuality among students.

The association and the Chinese University of Hong Kong are working on a study of homophobic bullying in schools.

Only 20 percent of 300 bisexuals and homosexuals, aged between 13 to 21, said parents know of their sexual orientation while 30 percent said teachers are aware.

Currently a post-secondary student, Ah Wing said he will only tell his parents once he becomes financially independent.

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