Student Intervention Against Homophobic Name-Calling: The Role of Peers, Teachers, and Inclusive Curricula

Salvatore Ioverno, Maria Rosaria Nappa, Stephen T. Russell, Roberto Baiocco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Encouraging bystander intervention is an effective strategy to prevent episodes of bullying victimization at school. Yet there remains a paucity of evidence on this behavior in situations of homophobic name-calling, a form of peer victimization aimed at mocking individuals based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. The existing research has focused on intentionality rather than actual student intervention behaviors, and, of note, no previous studies have taken into consideration contextual factors at the classroom and school levels. The present study examined whether students’ observations of teacher and peer interventions against homophobic name-calling and perceptions of the representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues in class are associated with student intervention behaviors against homophobic name-calling. A three-level multilevel approach was used to account for the nested nature of students’ experiences in classrooms and schools. The sample included 1,296 students (43.57% girls) recruited from 84 classrooms of 22 Italian public high schools. Preliminary analyses showed that the variability in students’ reports had more to do with which classrooms versus which schools students attend. Results from multilevel regressions indicated that students who observe teachers intervening during episodes of homophobic name-calling, and who perceive the representation of LGBT issues in class as positive, were more likely to intervene against homophobic name-calling and to observe other classmates intervene as well. Also, participants who observed other students intervening were more likely to intervene. These findings highlight the importance of the role of teachers in modeling classroom norms to encourage bystander interventions. Teachers can do so indirectly such as when providing a positive representation of LGBT issues in class, or directly when intervening to condemn episodes of homophobic name-calling. In addition, our results affirm the importance of peer influence in encouraging bystander interventions during episodes of homophobic name-calling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)NP19549-NP19575
JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
Issue number21-22
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • bullying
  • child abuse
  • prevention of child abuse
  • sexuality
  • violence against GLBT
  • youth violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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