Seventy percent of Irish parents said their children were under pressure not to be gay, a recent study has shown.

The labels “gay” and “lesbian" are used as taunts for children as young as 10 years old. The worst thing for a boy to be called is a "girl, woman, or gay", according to the Irish Independent today.

The report, called “Gender and Education” was published by researchers from the University of Limerick. They surveyed 1,915 parents and found that the vast majority – 93 percent – described themselves as Roman Catholic, despite the recent blows the Catholic Church has experienced in Ireland.

The researchers visited 120 Irish schools, and conducted follow-up phone-calls with 24 randomly selected parents. They found homosexuality was a major area of concern, as parents and teens struggle to deal with the issue. 

“The fear of being homosexual is a serious worry, both for themselves and how they are perceived by their parents," one parent said, according to the Irish Independent. Another commented, "heroes on television and video games are always strong and heterosexual."

Boys who speak about their feelings are likely to be teased as gay. Fear of the label causes boys to keep their thoughts to themselves, and some parents worry it affects the teens’ ability to communicate.

The report said male teens who are thought to be homosexual are a prime target for bullies.

The worst thing a boy can be called is a 'girl, woman, or gay.'