The three main political parties in the UK have welcomed today’s publication by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) of groundbreaking new guidance for teachers on homophobic bullying in schools.

The pioneering guidance, commissioned from gay equality organisation Stonewall by the DCSF, provides school governors, heads, teachers and other staff with practical information about how to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying.

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, said:

“Homophobic insults should be viewed as seriously as racism. Even casual use of homophobic language in schools can create an atmosphere that isolates young people and can be the forerunner of more serious forms of bullying.”

Michael Gove, Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families committed his party to helping the government beat bullying.

He told PinkNews.co.uk:

“There should be zero tolerance of bullying in schools.

“Homophobic and racial bullying is particularly despicable as it is the combination of prejudice and victimisation which is toxic.

“Teachers need stronger powers to deal with this menace. We will do all we can to help the government beat this.

“We will give heads absolute powers to exclude the worst offenders. We hope these proposals will be adopted as all bullying is unacceptable.”

Liberal Democrat MP and spokesperson on education Stephen Williams has highlighted the issue of homophobic bullying on many occasions.

At this week’s Lib Dem party conference his proposal that “bullying mentors” in each school should be introduced to help deal with the consequences of bullying was overwhelmingly approved.

“These guidelines are welcome and long overdue,” he told PinkNews.co.uk

“It is essential that they are taken on board by every school and as long as they are followed to the letter they will make a huge difference to the lives of thousand of young gay men and women.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said the organisation was proud to have been commissioned by the DCSF to produce the guidance for schools.

“The life chances of children bullied at school are often permanently diminished,” he said.

“This tool represents an essential and much welcome step forward in the development of joined-up thinking that will help schools and teachers address all forms of bullying effectively.”