May 13, 2019 – Homophobic bullying peaked in California schools during the time of the Proposition 8 referendum in November 2008 that called for marriage to be limited to heterosexuals, according to a study published in the June 2019 issue of Pediatrics.

The study, “Proposition 8 and Homophobic Bullying in California,” (published online May 13) reviewed data from nearly 5 million students over 14 years collected by the California Healthy Kids Survey, a statewide survey on youth risk behaviors and protective factors.

The survey, collected between the 2001-02 and 2014-15 academic years, asked participants, “During the past 12 months, how many times on school property were you harassed or bullied because you are gay or lesbian (or someone thought you were)?” Researchers observed a 3.2%-point increase (29.6% relative increase) in the proportion of students reporting homophobic bullying during the academic year that included Proposition 8 when compared with 2001-02, even as trends in other types of bullying related to race or ethnicity, religion, and gender declined. Following the vote, student reports of homophobic bullying gradually decreased. The authors note that public campaigns that communicate stigma against any particular group may confer risk for bias-based bullying among youth.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds