Address issue of LGBT bullying

Address issue of LGBT bullying
A record 28,000 people turned up at Hong Lim Park on 13 June 2015 for Pink Dot 2015, an annual event that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

I agree with Miss Eden Chua ("Agree to disagree on LGBT issues"; Tuesday) that we should emphasise respect and openness in dialogue and discussion on contentious issues such as same-sex marriage.

However, I am concerned with her over-simplification of the current climate as concerning "two opposing camps".

There are more urgent problems facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, especially young people, that cannot be left as an agreement to disagree.

A 2012 survey by LGBT counselling group Oogachaga found that school-based abuse and discrimination were high, with 45.4 per cent to 71.4 per cent of respondents reporting having faced discrimination in school based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Bullying has a profoundly damaging impact on young people's school experience.

A report by British LGBT lobby group Stonewall in 2012 showed that one in three gay, lesbian and bisexual students experiencing bullying changed their future educational plans because of it. Three in five said it had a direct impact on their schoolwork.

More worryingly, two in five attempted or thought about taking their own life or self-harming because of the bullying.

While it is encouraging that there is support from some universities here, with the recent launch of the Inter-University LGBT Network, more should be done to eliminate bullying and discrimination in our schools, especially towards LGBT students.

The issue of homophobic and transphobic bullying in our schools is a serious concern and needs to be addressed urgently.

Let us create a safer and more inclusive environment for LGBT youth because no young person should feel unsafe in our society.

Daryl Yang Wei Jian

This article was first published on July 3, 2015.
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