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Evans, C.B.R., & Chapman, M.V. (2014). Bullied youth: The impact of bullying through lesbian, gay, and bisexual name calling. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84, 644-652.

Bullying behavior is defined by three features: intent to harm the victim, a social or physical power imbalance between the bully and the victim, and repetition (Olweus, 1993). In addition, bullying can be classified into four behavioral categories: physical, verbal teasing and name calling in oral or written form, relational behaviors, such as spreading rumors to damage the victim’s reputation and relationships, and property damage, including stealing (Gladden, Vivolo-Kantor, Hamburger, & Lumpkin, 2014). For victims, repeated exposure to these forms of bullying has been associated with increased rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness, suicidal ideation, and decreased self-esteem (Juvonen, Graham, & Schuster, 2003; Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpelä, Marttunen, Rimpleä, & Rantanen, 1999; Olweus, 1993). Based on studies dating from 2001, current bullying victimization estimates for youth in middle and high school range from 10% to 28% (Nansel et al., 2001; Robers, Kemp, Truman, & Snyder, 2013; Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009). Rates are particularly high in rural areas with estimates ranging from 33% to 82% (Dulmus, Theriot, Sowers, & Blackburn, 2004; Price, Chin, Higa-McMillan, Kim, & Frueh, 2013; Stockdale, Hangaduambo, Duys, Larson, & Sarvela, 2002). Youth are often bullied for looking or acting differently than their peers, and victims are targeted for physical characteristics such as weight, size, color, or ethnicity as well as hairstyle and clothing choices (Geiger & Fischer, 2006). Bias-based bullying refers to bullying motivated by prejudice toward the victim’s real or perceived group membership (Mishna, 2012; Poteat, Mereish, DiGiovanni, & Scheer, 2013). Examples of targeted groups include racial, ethnic, and religious groups (Eslea & Mukhtar, 2000; Graham, 2006; Stein, Dukes, & Warren, 2007) as well as gender (Timmerman, 2003), disability status (Farmer et al., 2012; Rose, Espelage, & Monda-Amaya, 2009; Whitney, Smith, & Thompson, 1994), and sexual orientation (Elze, 2003; Poteat & Espelage, 2005). As compared with heterosexual youth, those who identified as being gay, lesbian, or bisexual were more likely to report they had been bullied (Berlan et al., 2010). Among a sample of males in Grades 9 through 11, those who reported they were bullied by use of gay as a verbal epithet reported worse psychological outcomes, including increased rates of depression and anxiety and more negative perceptions of school than males who were bullied by being called other names or by other means (Swearer, Turner, Givens, & Pollack, 2008).

Method: Data came from a survey administered to a sample of 3,379 elementary-, middle-, and high-school students in a rural school district in the United States. The survey consisted of 33 questions about bullying perpetration (e.g., frequency, type, and reasons) and bullying victimization (e.g., frequency, type, location, reasons, adult responses, and student responses). The first item asked participants “Have you ever been bullied at school?” Response options were never, sometimes (1 or 2 times a month), regularly (1 or 2 times a week), and every day. The second survey item asked students to describe which bullying behaviors they experienced by providing yes/no response options to 12 items: “I have been teased and called names,” “I have been hit, kicked, or punched,” “Others leave me out of groups,” “Others do not choose to sit by me or talk to me,” “Others phone me at home and say they will hurt me,” “Others phone me at home and say they will hurt my family,” “I have been called gay, lesbian, or queer,” “I have been bullied through e-mail or MySpace/Facebook,” and “I have been bullied through a cell phone/texting.” The social bullying variable comprised three items: teased/called names, others do not sit with or talk to me, and others leave me out of groups. The cyber/electronic bullying variable comprised four items: bullied on the Internet, bullied on cell phone, threatened on the phone, and family threatened on the phone. The item “I have been hit, kicked, or punched” was labeled as Physical and the item “I have been called gay, lesbian, or queer” was labeled as LGB.

Results: More than half of the sample reported never having been bullied whereas 41% reported being bullied. The most frequent form of bullying was teasing, which was reported by 39% of the sample. Social Victims consisted of students with a high probability of reporting they were bullied but a low probability of reporting either physical bullying, electronic bullying, or bullying by LGB name calling.

Discussion: The second-largest group was referred to as the Social Victims group (37%) because these youth had a high probability of reporting social victimization. The All Victims group had a high probability of reporting all forms of victimization, a 100% probability of reporting that they were bullied by being called gay, lesbian, or queer, and a 90% probability of labeling their experiences as bullying. Bullying programs are developed with the aim of addressing all forms of bullying rather than targeting biases toward particular populations that might be at greatest risk of experiencing bullying. The current research points to the need for creating comprehensive interventions with a focus on promoting acceptance of LGB youth and discouraging homophobic name calling.