The field of bullying research initially paid minimal attention to the influences of gender role expectations (masculinity, femininity, and gender role conformity), as well as heteronormativity, cisnormativity, homophobia, and transphobia in understanding the phenomenon. This has shifted since the late 2000s, when more research emerged that analyzes gender as an influential factor for understanding bullying dynamics in schools. More recent studies have focused on LGBTQ youth, issues of disability, and racialized identities, as well as the impacts of online interactions. When examining gender and bullying, it is important to also examine related forms of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment, dating violence, and other forms of sexual and violent assault such as transphobic violence and murder. In order to more effectively support schools and professionals working to reduce bullying, there must be a deeper understanding of what is currently known about gender and bullying, what works to reduce it in schools, and what still needs more attention in the research literature.
Elizabeth J. Meyer
Russell B. Toomey and Zhenqiang Zhao
U.S. federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education. U.S. case law also applies the prohibition of sex discrimination to incidents motivated by a person’s sex or gender, including gender identity and expression. Enumerated nondiscrimination, school-based policies that include gender identity and expression are among the foundational policies advocated for by researchers and practitioners who aim to make schools safer for transgender and gender nonconforming students. These policies serve as a foundation for all other interventions or policies that may be implemented in schools to increase safety for transgender and gender nonconforming students. Further, enumerated nondiscrimination policies provide students with a clear understanding of their rights at school, and they provide school personnel with grounding to prevent and intervene in gender-based discrimination. Research finds that transgender and gender nonconforming students experience high levels of stigma in schools (manifested as discrimination, stigma-based bullying), and that these school-based experiences are associated with compromised educational outcomes in addition to disparities in behavioral, physical, and psychological health. Students in schools that have enumerated nondiscrimination policies report less bias stigma-based bullying attributed to gender identity and expression compared to students in schools with nonenumerated policies. Further, students are more likely to report that teachers intervene in stigma-based bullying attributed to gender identity and expression in schools that have enumerated nondiscrimination policies compared to those that do not. Finally, studies find that nondiscrimination policies that include gender identity and expression attenuate the negative consequences of stigma for students.