Bullying and homophobia

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Bullying and homophobia

When we think about the association between bullying, homophobic teasing, and sexual harassment in middle school, and in middle school sexual harassment we're actually talking about verbal comments related to one's sexual identity and one's gender expression. What we find in middle school is that generic types of teasing, of bullying someone of physical characteristics then leads to homophobic teasing, and that's the use of homophobic language that's directed towards kids that either assumed to be gay, presumed to be gay, or generally are expressing behaviors that are not consistent with their gender. So is a girl not being feminine enough, is a boy not being masculine enough? And because we're not really addressing sexual harassment prevention in out schools, what happens is is that kids that are being targeted by the homophobic banter then publicly display their heterosexuality and then react to the assumption that they're gay by publicly sexually harassing someone else. So we see that general kinds of bullying leads to this homophobic bantering, and then the ways in which you respond to a climate is to then publicly harass sexually.

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Dorothy Espelage

Professor of Child Development

Dorothy L. Espelage, PhD, is a Professor of Child Development in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  She is a University Scholar and has fellow status in Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.  She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University in 1997. She has conducted research on bullying, homophobic teasing, sexual harassment, and dating violence for the last 18 years. As a result, she presents regularly at regional, national, and international conferences and is author on over 90 professional publications.  She is co-editor of four published books including Bullying in North American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention and International Handbook of Bullying published by Routledge. She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Counseling Psychology. She has presented thousands of workshops and in-service training seminars for teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers across the U.S.  Her research focuses on translating empirical findings into prevention and intervention programming.  She is currently funded by the CDC for a randomized clinical trial of a bullying prevention program in 36 middle schools. She authored a 2011 White House Brief on bullying among LGBTQ youth and attended the White House Conference in 2011. She is also funded by National Science Foundation to develop better methods to assess bullying among adolescents and CDC and NIJ are funding a longitudinal study of predictors of bullying and dating violence among adolescents. Dr. Espelage has appeared on many television news and talk shows, including The Today Show; CNN; CBS Evening News; The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anderson, Anderson 360 and has been quoted in the national print press, including Time Magazine, USA Today, People, Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Her dedicated team of undergraduate and graduate students are committed to the dissemination of the research through various mechanisms.

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