According to an expansive study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (4268 children completed interviews), “Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, also termed sexual-minority youth, are at high risk for being bullied.” While that is no surprise, the study also finds:
As early as 5th grade, before most youth are likely to be aware of or to disclose their sexual orientation, girls and boys who 5 years later were considered to be sexual minorities on the basis of self-reported information were more likely than other children to report that they had been bullied and victimized.
Apparently this is because some children are perceived as being girlish boys or boyish girls. 21% of girls and 8% of boys reported that they were not 100% heterosexual or straight or not attracted only to the opposite sex.
Regarding the charted data:
We measured bullying with the question “How often have you been bullied in the past 12 months?” (Panel A). We measured peer victimization with items adapted from the Peer Experiences Questionnaire with the question “How often did kids [in 5th-grade survey; or “teens,” in 7th- and 10th-grade surveys] during the past 12 months?” that included the following content: “kick or push you in a mean way,” “say they would hurt you or beat you up,” “call you names,” “leave you out of what they were doing on purpose,” “tell nasty things about you to others,” and “avoid sitting near you at lunch or in class” (Cronbach’s alpha, 0.84, 0.87, and 0.78 for 5th, 7th, and 10th grades, respectively) (Panel B). Response options for all the items were “never,” “once or twice,” “a few times,” “about once a week,” and “a few times a week.” Following prior research that defines bullying as frequent or repeated victimization,4 we classified a participant as bullied or victimized, respectively, if he or she reported bullying or any of the six victimization items “about once a week” or “a few times a week.” Odds ratios and P values are from weighted repeated-measures logistic regressions that assess the associations of sexual-minority status with bullying and peer victimization across all three grades.