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Bullied out of the closet

By Lin Meilian (Global Times)

11:44, May 21, 2012

When the teacher asked how many boys and girls were in the class, one boy loudly answered, "we have 22.5 boys and 22.5 girls." All the students laughed except one. He was the half-child and labeled as such for being gay. He ran from the class and cried in the playground.

Bing Feng, 20, a student in Guangdong Province, recalls this scene from his high school days.

"Pervert, sissy boy, half-man, half-woman --those nicknames stayed with me from primary school to high school. My school years were a long, dark and helpless time," he told the Global Times.

His soft voice, slight physique and long hair made him stand out from other students and he quickly became a target of homophobic bullying.

Endemic bullying

Gay rights advocates say homophobic bullying is becoming endemic in China's high schools. About 77 percent of respondents among young lesbian, gay and bisexual students said they had experienced direct verbal or physical abuse, according to a survey released last week and jointly conducted by Aibai Culture & Education Center, Beijing LGBT Center and the Associated Gay/Les Campus in Guangzhou.

This abuse ranged from being slapped, kicked and pulled by the hair to being forcefully stripped for nude pictures. About 26 percent of 421 respondents had developed a range of self-destructive consequences, such as alcoholism, self-harm, promiscuity or attempting to take their own lives.

"Maybe when you heard the number 421, you might think 'oh it is a small number,' but keep in mind that they all have already been counted as being bullied based on their sexual orientation," said Doudou, director of Associated Gay/Les Campus. "It shows that most gay youths are suffering from school bullies at different times."

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