What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Homophobic Bullying At University Has Long Lasting Effects

by John
(UK)

I am writing to relate an unpleasant incident of bullying that I experienced as an American Studies and English Literature student at University. A female lecturer made a number of cruel, malicious and calculating comments towards me, in an effort to satisfy, for whatever motive, her malice towards a young gay person. I would describe the disparaging and unpleasant comments that she made about my sexuality as homophobic.

Beginning in one tutorial lesson, I was referred to as ‘nonce’ in front of a whole classroom of students. When I attempted to defend myself, the bullying increased.

During my final autumn term I had taken part in the Fresher’s mart and had been a member of the Gay and Lesbian society. This had included personal safety alarms for women. Our aim was to foster an enlightened attitude towards gay people. Unfortunately, the efforts to help students dealing with gay feelings were then effectively destroyed by the actions of this member of staff.

The tutor’s initial comments about me included that I ‘lacked confidence’ and that I ‘mumbled’ when I talk. During the same autumn term she attended a tutorial with part of her breasts exposed to students. She arranged for me to do a presentation for her Specialist subject, supplying key books, and handed me a tape with song titles where she had scribbled the words ‘John are you getting married?’ at the bottom of the list.

On giving the oral presentation she twisted a comment I made into a joke about small male private parts, with the aim of making me look silly in front of a whole classroom of students.

When, two weeks later, I apologised due to an absence caused by having to attend a family funeral, she remarked if it was an ‘important uncle’ who had died.

On entering her house where she had invited students for food, she waited until everybody had sat down and proceeded to launch into a series of nasty verbal attacks, designed to humiliate me in front of other students.

On talking about a famous star, Michael Jackson, whom I had mentioned in a previous tutorial, she made the following remarks:

‘Man that can’t make it with a woman.’

She then made further comments about male to male sexual activities:

‘Men m*****g men.’ “AIDS”

During a psychoanalytic film theory and feminism course, another confidante of the ringleader used the oblique phrase ‘card-carrying member’ which I have since interpreted as offensive.

By the beginning of the following year, the lecturer elicited the help of a male colleague who called me a ‘wimp’ in front of a whole classroom of students. She later ran in front of me, and smiled wordlessly as she headed into the ladies toilet.

I feel that the staff member was playing ‘psychological rape’ games. The harassment was in conjunction with dealing with insensitive bullying from some of the student populace. In the supposed ‘enlightened’ atmosphere of a University, her behaviour was reprehensible, and served only to undermine the personality and ambitions of a gay person.

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