THAILAND-1-superJumboBangkok: A special study has showed a high percentage of LGBT students in Thailand being bullied, verbally, physical and even sexually abused.

A study by Plan International, Unesco and Mahidol University showed 31% of students who identified themselves as LGBT reported having experienced physical abuse, 29% were verbally abused and 24% said they faced sexual harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The study, the first of its kind in Thailand, collected data from more than 2,000 students from five provinces in four regions, says a report. The study also had additional inputs from 450 teachers and school administrators.

LGBT students surveyed spoke of behavior at school that fit the commonly accepted definition of bullying.

This included name-calling, slapping and kicking, being ostracized and unwanted sexual touching.

Victims said they were accused of inviting being bullied upon themselves.

Many LGBT students said that even going to the toilet at school was an ordeal, since they were not accepted at washrooms designated for either sex.

Those who didn’t identify with their biological sex said they were prevented from wearing the uniforms and hairstyles to match their gender identity.

The study showed 7% of those bullied said they had attempted suicide in the past year, while 23% suffered from depression.

Anxiety, low self-esteem, withdrawal and social isolation were some of the other effects of bullying.

This poses other threats to their well-being, the report said.

Victims of bullying are more susceptible to engaging in illegal drug use and unprotected sex, thereby increasing their risk of exposure to HIV.

Fear of further discrimination and abuse also makes them less likely to access potentially life-saving HIV and sexual and reproductive health services.

Researchers found that most schools lack a general anti-bullying policy, let alone one that focuses on LGBT students.

They say they are concerned by the finding and have called for special lesson plans to be introduced in the school curriculum so as to bring discussions on sexual and gender diversity into the classroom.

The study was undertaken by Unesco and Plan Thailand, with support from the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Swedish International Development Agency and Mahidol University, a public research university in Bangkok.