Bullying follows LGB people from school to work, report finds
Around a third of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals who are bullied at school will have similar experiences in the workplace later in life, according to new research.
The study by academics at Anglia Ruskin University found that 35.2% of gay/bisexual men who had experienced frequent school-age bullying also experience frequent workplace bullying.
Among lesbian women, the figure was 29%.
Researchers quizzed 400 people about their experience at school, and also asked them about bullying at their current workplace.
When describing their experiences at school, 73% of gay men said they were either constantly, frequently or sometimes bullied.
Just 9.9% said they were never bullied. Among lesbian women, 59% experienced constant, frequent, or occasional bullying.
The research also examined job satisfaction.
Most gay men said they were “dissatisfied” with their job (56%), while this was also the most common answer for lesbian women (47%).
The study’s patterns are in line with a 2018 Government Equalities Office survey finding that at least 40% of LGBT respondents had experienced a verbal harassment or physical violence between 2016 and 2017.
“This study suggests that bullying may be a chronic problem for LGB individuals, which continues from school to the workplace,” said report author, Dr Nick Drydakis.
“This could be for a number of reasons – school-age bullying could be more likely to lead to low self-esteem, a difficulty in forming trusting relationships, or a greater risk of poor mental health. Factors like these may make it more likely they will experience bullying in the workplace later in life,” added Dr Drydakis.
“Post school-age bullying victims might exhibit characteristics of vulnerability, such as sub-assertive behaviours, which make them attractive targets for unfavourable treatments and evaluations from colleagues and employers in the workplace.
“In turn, individuals, firms and society as a whole face long-lasting negative effects which appear to begin in the playground,” said the author.
“There is also a negative association between bullying of LGB individuals, and job satisfaction. Interestingly, we found that the existence of a workplace group for LGB individuals appeared to result in better job satisfaction, perhaps a lesson for employers wanting a more satisfied and motivated workforce.”
According to Barbour, almost a third of workers have been bullied and half of women, and a fifth of men, have been sexually harassed at work. Bullying and harassment is offensive or insulting behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated. It may involve the abuse of power by one person over another, or it can involve groups of people.
This free employee factsheet contains:
- What is bullying and harassment?
- The impact of bullying;
- The role of an employer;
- Advice for combatting bullying;
- Actions to take;
- Sources of help and information.