CHICAGO - A University of Illinois at Chicago researcher has received a $730,000
grant from the Ford Foundation for a four-year study of adolescents'
reasoning about bullying due to gender and sexuality, and about
bullying as a means of social control.
Stacey Horn, UIC associate professor of educational psychology, said a
growing body of research shows the prevalence of sexuality-related
bullying, but few studies have investigated how adolescents view such
behavior, and how age, culture, social groups, and school context
influence their views.
"Do young people view all forms of sexuality-based exclusion or
bullying as harassment? Or do they see some of them as legitimate ways
to regulate their peers' social behavior?" Horn said. "Do school norms,
rules, and policies affect their reasoning?"
Horn said harassment may include "calling someone a fag, slut or dyke
to harm their social status, spreading a rumor about their sexual
behavior, or even physical assault."
Her research will begin with a survey to assess the frequency of
various types of bullying in Chicago-area public schools.
The researchers then will conduct one-on-one interviews of seventh-,
ninth-, and 11th-graders that will encourage them to recall incidents
of sexuality-related interactions, including such details as the
relationship of perpetrator and victim, their mental states, peer
status, presence of bystanders, outcome of the event, and to what
extent the interview subject considered it harassment.
In a second round of interviews, researchers will present vignettes
based on incidents discussed in previous interviews, record the
students' reactions, and prepare case studies to determine how those
reactions are influenced by school context, particularly their schools'
compliance with Illinois' recent anti-bullying law.
Horn said the Ford Foundation grant is unique in its focus on public
policy. Recipients must not only conduct research, but also produce
public education campaigns based on research results and train graduate
students as the next generation of researchers in sexuality and sexual
Horn's research team will develop its public education campaign in
partnership with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance to reach middle-
and high-school students and school personnel.
"We'll be heavily involved in shaping how the anti-bullying law is
implemented across the state," Horn said.
"We're also working with a coalition of teacher education faculty from
across the state to ensure that all teacher education students get
adequate training in sexual orientation and gender identity."
Horn's research will begin in January. Preliminary results from the
research will be announced over the next two to three years.
UIC ranks among the nation's leading research universities and is
Chicago's largest university with 27,000 students, 12,000 faculty and
staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A
hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which
UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate,
foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve
the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.