According to a study released on May 7, nearly 70 percent of Japan’s LGBT students have been the target of bullying at school, and 30 percent have contemplated suicide.
The survey is “the first large-scale study [on the topic]undertaken in Japan,” reported The Japan Times.
The study was conducted via online poll by the Tokyo-based Inochi Risupekuto Howaito Ribon Kyanpen, (IRHRK, “The Life Respect White Ribbon Campaign”), intended to prevent LGBT suicide. Between October and December 2013, the poll was answered by 609 people between the ages of 10 and 35, who answered questions about their experiences in elementary, middle, or high school. All of them had attended schools in the Kanto region, which is the most urbanized and industrialized part of Japan as well as the most heavily populated, and 68 percent reported that they had experienced bullying of some kind.
Of those, 49 percent said that they had been shunned or ignored, and 53 percent were verbally abused. 20 percent reported suffering physical abuse, and 11 percent were sexually abused. The majority said that the harassment lasted over a year. The demographic that was bullied the longest were male-bodied students with gender identity disorder, of whom 43 percent said they were bullied for over 5 years.
Most of the bullies in question were fellow students, but 12 percent said they were tormented by teachers.
About half of the survey respondents said that they didn’t have anyone in their lives that they could speak with regarding the bullying. 32 percent reported thoughts of suicide, and 22 percent said they had self-harmed.
A co-leader of IRHRK, Mameta Endo, said “More teachers need to know the issues LGBTs are facing,” according to the Japan Times. “As most bullying starts at elementary schools, I want teachers to provide children correct information about sexual minorities.”
She continued, “The survey also found that boys with gender identity disorder have faced especially harsh bullying for not being manly. Schools need to find ways to teach students about LGBTs to prevent those who don’t match stereotypical ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ gender types from being bullied.”
The report comes only days after a study by UK charity Ditch the Label found similar statistics, with an estimated 80% of LGBT students bullied because of their sexuality. Despite the drastic legal differences between the countries—Japan has no legal protections for the LGBT community, while the UK has anti-discrimination laws and recognizes same-sex relationships—more than twice as many UK students as Japanese students (66 percent versus 32 percent) said they had contemplated suicide, and more than three times as many (67 percent versus 22 percent) had self-harmed.