The education authorities in Coventry are to send leaflets to secondary school students about how to deal with discrimination.

The leaflets from the city council will instruct pupils to speak out about bullying over race, religion, disability or sexuality.

There are also plans to implement a drama workshop to encourage pupils to speak out against bullying in schools.

Council education authorities are concerned that the 182 racist bullying incidents reported in the school year 2005-06 were only the tip of the iceberg, with students being too afraid to speak out.

The fact that there are no statistics on reports of homophobic or disability-related abuse caused further concern, the Coventry Evening Telegraph reports.

Chief executive of Coventry City Council Stella Manzie said: “We believe that far more hate crime takes place in our city than is ever reported.

“We need to make sure that anyone who suffers from hate crime reports it either directly to the police or to one of the many non police reporting centres across the city.”

Ruth Hunt at Stonewall welcomed the action from the council.

“Homophobic bullying is rife in our schools, affecting both gay

and straight pupils,” she told PinkNews.co.uk

“At Stonewall we hear from young people who are too afraid to speak out because they think their school will do nothing about it.

“This leaflet will send a clear signal that homophobic bullying should not, and will not, be tolerated.”

There are particular worries in Coventry that children from asylum-seeking families are a target for bullies.

Head of the Minority Group Support Service Chris Shearsby says that these children do not report incidents because they are used to living in countries where police and government officials are part of the problem and can’t be trusted.