Bullying in school continues for the LGBTQIA+ community: What can we do to support our peers?

by Sayani Basak

My friend Sam was sitting next to me, as he usually does, swiping through his Tinder profile, when he came across one of his school friends, Jack, who had a profile on Tinder too.

Jack used to bully Sam in school before their last semester due to his sexual orientation. Jack continued to bully Sam online and started tagging him in memes, homophobic videos and he used slurs against him in public posts.

The incident was traumatic for Sam, and it took him a long time to come out. Sometimes similar situations trigger Sam and I see how it impacts his well-being. So what can I do to be a good peer?

The above narrative might be similar to a situation you have experienced with a peer. But how can we recognise when something is wrong and offer support? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Talk less and listen more. It allows us to unlearn and learn information about the person who is expressing their feelings to us.
  2. Not being judgemental and letting them speak openly. It is okay to break down and cry, but sitting beside the other person and letting them know it’s ok to feel emotions is showing support.
  3. Use appropriate terminology like their preferred pronouns, and build a conversation with inclusive language. Terms like “others”, “third gender,” or differentiating between “you and we” can be derogatory and hurtful.
  4. Asking your peer if they need any further support to ease their triggered feelings of abuse.
  5. Connect them with credible support groups (online/ offline or both) so that they can converse, and share their experiences and struggles.
  6. Lastly, you can encourage them to not quit the internet and reclaiming their spaces (irrespective of whether it is online or offline)

The Internet is a space for all and engaging online will give a clear message to the perpetrators that LGBTQ+ individuals are not alone. Online bullying should not be tolerated, and creating constant noise against the criminals and a demand for accountability from relevant institutions need to be established.

*pseudo names are used to protect the identity of the person.