Homophobic Harassment in Schools

Based on the course articles and group discussion. 

Group: Krista Vihantomaa (writer), Wilhelmina Fröberg and Hanna Markoff.

Homophobic harassment does not usually get as much attention as other forms of discrimination. Term homophobic harassment is based on homosexual stereotypes and repeats the dominant role of heterosexuality in culture. Harassment is also one of the forms of discrimination.

In the article “Avoiding the issue. Homophobia, school policies and identities in secondary schools” Epstein et al. (2003) discusses how prevalent homophobic harassment and bullying can be in schools, arguing that the forms it takes are gendered, racialized and classed. Harassment can be explained by the fact that it can be invisible and may be difficult to identify. However, the study shows that homophobic behavior was visible to both students and teachers. This was seen, for example, how both students and teachers talked about the use of homophobic language. (Esptein et al., 2003.)

When we discussed about the Epstein’s (2003) article, we were surprised that how differently teachers saw the problem. Several teachers said that homophobia was a problem in their schools while others ignored this completely. Homophobia was ignored for example, telling how children always bully and cuss each other. The study shows, how schools found it most difficult to handle homophobic abuse and were most likely to ignore it. (Esptein et al., 2003.)

Homophobia is related to the emphatic masculinities prevalent in school situation. All in all, these results demonstrate ways of creating, regulating and maintaining different masculinity in schools. (Esptein et al., 2003; Arnot, 2003.) Some schools do not have clear policies and practices to respond to homophobic violence. Homophobia is afraid to speak and some even deny existence of the whole problem. Though, schools have a responsibility to develop better policies and practices to challenge homophobia. It is also important to pay attention everyday activities in school, like the use of appropriate language and bringing issues up


Arnot, M. (2003). Male working-class identities and social justice. Ch 6 in Social justice, education and identity edited by Carol Vincent.

Epstein, D., Hewitt, R., Leonard, D., Mauthner, M. & Watkins, C. (2003). Avoiding the issues. Homophobia, school policies and identities in secondary schools. Ch 7 in Social justice, education and identity edited by Carol Vincent.


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