By Emma DampierIn a society that is still largely dominated by young boys, a school that is also predominantly female is the norm.
Yet for all the social and political pressure that is put on girls to be more like boys, there are many more boys who are simply too scared to come forward about their experiences at school.
In a recent survey, the NSPCC found that boys in particular are more likely to report being bullied or mistreated at school than girls.
The survey revealed that boys are often bullied at school for being different from girls, as well as for being gay, and the NSSC reported that around 40 per cent of boys were bullied in schools compared to 23 per cent in girls.
In some schools, girls are also more likely than boys to be the victim of bullying, particularly at school parties.
However, boys and men are often perceived to be bullied because of the way they look.
“I was the only girl at school that was in a dress,” said 19-year-old Anthony.
“When I came out as gay, everyone at school thought I was the girl in the dress.”
Anthony was bullied in his second year at St George’s Grammar School, a predominantly male secondary school in the capital London, where he says he was the target of homophobic slurs.
“I’ve always felt like I’m the victim and they don’t want me to be,” Anthony told me.
“There were so many times I would just be the centre of attention and I just felt like everyone else was talking to me.”
The school’s principal, David Waring, said the school’s policy for dealing with bullying was “very simple” and that bullying “is never acceptable” in the school.
“We take this very seriously,” he said.
“It’s never acceptable for bullying to happen.”
He said that the school had implemented a new bullying policy and was currently working with local organisations to “work towards the removal of all homophobic language” from the school, and that “if it happens again we will take action”.
However, Anthony has already been bullied for being transgender, and he has been referred to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey by the NSDUH.
He says that it was the school that referred him to the NPSC for help.
“It was my parents that brought me to the school,” he explained.
I just think, how do you really take that to the next level?
How do you go to a school and tell the principal and to the administration that you don’t believe in equality?
The school has taken action, but Anthony is worried about what he will be able to do to end his own bullying. “
I feel like I don’t belong there and I’m just really not getting any help.”
The school has taken action, but Anthony is worried about what he will be able to do to end his own bullying.
It’s important for him to go to the police and seek justice, but he fears that if he goes to the authorities he won’t be able, because “people will just assume that I am homophobic”.
Anthony said he felt that his parents and teachers had “allowed it to happen”, but he felt they were not doing enough.
“They’ve let it happen and now it’s my turn,” he added.
“And I’m not alone.”
Anthony said there are still too many boys who feel “unsafe” in school and he hopes that others can come forward to share their experiences.
“If you can get the word out, it can make a difference,” he told me, “to get people talking about it.”
The NSSR survey is currently ongoing and it will be released in the coming weeks.
Follow Emma Damps on Twitter at @EmmaDampierMTV