A new Manchester initiative aimed at ending homophobia through education has been launched today.

The scheme, called ‘Exceeding Expectations,’ has launched a newsletter to be distributed to all adults working at secondary schools across the city.

The three year initiative to support schools will reach more than 12,000 education professionals with appropriate interventions, resources, training and advice on homophobia and sexuality.

The project is an unprecedented collaboration between the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, Manchester City Council Children’s Services, Manchester Education Partnership, Excellence in Cities, Service Improvement and Inclusion, Manchester Healthy Schools Partnership and Hope Theatre Company.

Pauline Newman, Director of Manchester City Council’s Children’s Services said: “Exceeding Expectations is an important initiative to safeguard Manchester young people from the harmful effects of homophobia and homophobic bullying.”

The initiative also aims to help and support schools to address issues of sexuality through education.

Paul Martin, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation said: “Homophobia in schools can have tragic consequences for young people and can result in truancy, poor grades, substance misuse, illness and even self-harm or suicide.

“It is important that we start to tackle this issue.

“Our intention is to promote a zero tolerance approach to homophobia by addressing it in a similar way to racism.”

Exceeding Expectation’s first four-page newsletter explains the initiative and gives information on spotting the early signs of homophobic behaviour. Issue two will focus on young people and LGBT history month held throughout February 2007 and issue three will look at International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

Manchester City Cllr Paul Fairweather commented: “Sadly young people have low expectations when it comes to challenging homophobia and talking about sexuality openly. That’s why we hope to exceed their expectations through this initiative.”

Exceeding Expectations are looking for colleagues in Manchester Schools to sign up as champions for the initiative.

For more information contact exceedingexpectations@lgf.org.uk