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Over 60% of LGBTQ high schoolers in Mie Pref. experienced bullying: survey

Some 60 percent of high school students belonging to sexual minorities in Mie Prefecture had experienced bullying, and roughly 30 percent had engaged in self-harm, a survey has found.

The research was carried out by the Mie Prefecture Gender Equality Center "Frente Mi e" and professor Yasuharu Hidaka of Takarazuka University, and is the largest investigation of current high school students. Those involved in the survey said they suspect that not conforming to existing norms of gender and sexual categories was connected to bullying.

An anonymous questionnaire was distributed to second-year high school students around Mie Prefecture from October to December 2017, and roughly 10,000 students returned the form for a 90 percent response rate. Among the students, the roughly 10 percent who identified themselves as transgender, gay or lesbian, or "unsure" of their gender or sexuality were treated as sexual minorities and their responses analyzed.

Those who had been bullied made up 61 percent of the group -- a significant difference from the 38 percent of those bullied who did not belong to the study's sexual minority group. Furthermore, the number of LGBTQ students who had been jeered with derogatory terms, such as being told they weren't "masculine" or "feminine" enough, was about three times that of the other group.

Those who answered that they "intentionally had caused (themselves) harm" was 32 percent among the LGBTQ students, compared to 12 percent among the other 90 percent of students. Only 37 percent of students belonging to sexual minorities answered that there was a place where they felt safe at school -- roughly 20 points lower than the other high schoolers. Some 48 percent of LGBTQ students felt that there was prejudice toward sexual minorities in their environment, while 35 percent of the other students also believed this to be true.

"I would like schools to be more respectful of diversity," Hidaka said.

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