The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families has welcomed the launch of the first ever national guidance from the government to help schools tackle homophobic bullying.

Speaking at the official launch event of the guidance in London, Ed Balls said:

“Bullying of any form is unacceptable – we must uphold every child’s right to learn in a safe and secure environment.

“Just as any form of racist bullying is unacceptable so too is homophobic bullying.

“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.

“I’m proud that as a Government we have been robust in tackling this and I’d like to thank Stonewall for the work they have done.”

Stonewall’s The School Report, published in June 2007, highlighted the scale of homophobic bullying in Britain’s secondary schools.

The research found that almost two thirds of young gay people have experienced homophobic bullying.

Ninety seven per cent of gay pupils regularly hear homophobic insults at school; three in ten of the 1145 young people surveyed said that it was adults in schools who carry out the bullying.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said:

“Stonewall is proud to have been commissioned by the DCSF to produce this guidance.

“It is very encouraging the government has recognised this form of bullying as a serious problem, which can have such a damaging effect on children.

“When writing this guidance, we ensured it was specifically designed to give teachers more confidence to confront the problem.

“This is a significant step forward in our campaign to tackle homophobic bullying.”