The church makes a significant contribution to homophobia and bullying in Irish schools, according to a study.

A report from Dublin City University’s Centre for Education Evaluation concluded that Catholic Church theology is “very influential” on teaching about sexuality in schools.

The research titled, Straight Talk – Researching Gay and Lesbian Issues in the School Curriculum was conducted with 364 teachers over three years, of which 80% said they were aware of verbal homophobic bullying and 16% reported examples of physical homophobic bullying.

The authors of the study, funded by the Department for Education, attributed anti gay attitudes to the church owning most schools in Ireland.

It says, “nothing can be taught in a school that does not reflect the church’s view on sexuality.

“This situation has gone largely unchallenged, but, it is now clear that in relation to State policy in key areas of SPHE, a potential for conflict is beginning to emerge.”

The figures showed 41% found homophobic bullying most difficult to deal compared to other types, reasons given for this were sensitivity to the victim, lack of guidelines, and a fear of the parent’s reaction.

James Norman was the main author, he said: “It is the last accepted prejudice existent in our schools. We have come to a point where we won’t allow racist or sexist comments but we haven’t been given a language for talking about homosexuality.”

The report pushes for guidelines on representing sexual diversity and acceptance.