A study into bullying in British schools has found that boys as young as 9 frequently use anti-gay bullying “to establish their masculinity.”

The research was done by Dr Emma Renold of Cardiff University, in Wales. She found that young boys often use the ‘gay’ and ‘girl’ as insults to other boys.

Her report calls for new efforts to combat homophobia and bullying at an earlier age than previously thought necessary.

The study was released at a weekend LGBT conference sponsored by Stonewall Cymru, the Welsh LGBT Rights groups. “These are key findings because it is very much time to make the link between gender and sexuality in bullying in the schools,” said Stonewall Cymru director, Dr Alison Parkin.

“What Emma is saying is that gender and sexuality are connected within the school environment and it seems there are still very narrow ways of being a boy and being a girl.”

Parkin said that the study shows a link “beyond the lesbian and gay sexuality issue to gender and sexuality for all children. Any intervention that is done in schools must begin in the early primary years,” Parkin said.

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