Australian boys are engaging in homophobia at an alarming rate, says a troubling new study.
According to mental health group Beyondblue, a third of teenage boys would not approve of having a gay person in their friendship group.
A quarter also think it’s ok to describe something they don’t like as “gay”.
The study of more than 300 14 to 17-year-old males further reported that one in five admitted they find it hard to treat same-sex attracted people the same as others.
A quarter also said terms such as “homo”, “dyke” and “confused” are “not really that bad”.
The results have been released as the organisation launched a national ad campaign to fight LGBTI discrimination among teenagers and young men.
Beyondblue’s Stop. Think. Respect: Left Hand cinema ad, in which a group of boys bully a left-handed teenager, calling him a “freak”, aims to highlight the absurdity of discriminating against people just for being themselves.
The campaign draws an analogy between discriminating against someone because they are left-handed and discriminating against someone who is not heterosexual.
“Research shows young males hold more homophobic attitudes than the general public and this latest study shows that, no matter what other gains have been made for LGBTI people, homophobia remains common among teenage boys,” said Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman.
“This is particularly concerning given young LGBTI people are already three to six times more likely to be distressed than their straight peers. If we want to reduce their distress, we must reduce the discrimination they face. We know that high levels of distress have a strong link to depression, anxiety and suicide.”
The ad will run for seven weeks in cinemas, on websites and on social media as it targets young males, with the expectation it will also cut through to the broader community. Watch it below.