Year: 2022 Source: International Journal of Bullying Prevention. (2019). 1:255–268. SIEC No: 20220500

This paper adopts sociological and “after-queer” lenses in order to problematise anti-bullying approaches that are justified on the basis of the apparent “vulnerability” of LGBTQ youth to a range of negative mental health outcomes, including self-harm and suicidality. Subjecting recent youth strategies, educational policies and instructional resources to critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 2003), it identifies the discourse of risk/vulnerability as a dominant or “nodal” discourse around which other sub-discourses—including the discourses of homophobic bullying, isolation, suicidality, self-harm and resilience—cluster. It considers the discursive effects of this configuration of discourses which foreground or include certain aspects or experiences of being LGBTQ to the exclusion of others, resulting in a “selective representation,” “simplification” and “condensation” of a much more complex social and cultural reality (Fairclough 2005). It argues that the singling out of LGBTQ youth as being “at risk” of homophobic bullying and mental health difficulties has a range of abnormalising, othering, re-stigmatising and heteronormativity-bolstering effects that obfuscate the role that schools themselves play in creating and sustaining the conditions that produce bullying. Rather than positioning LGBTQ youth as victims, and specifically targeting those who identify as LGBTQ as the beneficiaries of anti-homophobic bullying initiatives, it advocates a range of alternative frameworks that privilege the conditions and effects of gender regulation and normativity to which all children and youth are routinely subjected. The paper concludes by highlighting the need to address school-based organisational and cultural practices in order to reduce the incidence of gender and sexuality-based bullying in schools.