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Although we know homophobic bullying and bullying centring on gender conformity in schools is common, this story about primary school girls is still pretty shocking*.

A study by researchers at Cardiff University at a girls school found many year five girls “feel they must act ‘girly’ in order to avoid being called lesbians by their peers”, reports Pink News:

Published in the latest edition of the Gender and Education journal, the study found that pupils were under pressure to ensure they appeared heterosexual.

Speaking to the Times Educational Supplement, Dr Allan said: “The girls in this school felt that many more comments were made about their sexuality because of their separation from boys. They felt that it was automatically assumed by their peers outside of school that they were lesbians.”

She cited one incident of a girl being teased by a boy from an outside school about being a lesbian which was still a topic of discussion among pupils.

Pupils were found to go to great lengths to appear “girly” and “ladylike” in order to avoid being thought of as lesbians, adopting “hetero hyper-feminine” behaviour.

*Note: edited – apparently I can’t read, it’s year five girls, not five year old girls. Oops!