Schools should teach more about homosexuality and transgender issues as part of equality education if the problem of homophobic bullying is to be beaten, the TUC will argue today.
TUC General secretary, Brendan Barber will tell a conference in London that the education system itself can be the route cause of the problem.
“Schools and colleges have done much to counter racism and sexism, the same cannot be said when it comes to tackling homophobia,” he will argue.
“Despite some notable exceptions, too many educational establishments are breeding grounds for the worst kind of casual prejudice.”
Mr Barber will point to studies by Stonewall which show the scale of homophobic bullying; that nearly every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered pupil is troubled by. “Its shocking findings ought to act as a wake-up call to us all. Almost all LGBT pupils reported hearing homophobic abuse.
“No less than two thirds reported being the victims of bullying. And perhaps most alarming of all, one in six said they had been subjected to death threats.
“The consequences of all of this don’t just impact on academic attainment, which takes a pretty big hit. Don’t just impact on mental health, which is suffering as incidences of self-harm rise. But also on the self-esteem of young LGBT people, which is being shattered.”
A spokesman for the Department of Children, Schools and Families told the Press Association: “Bullying of any kind is unacceptable.
“Homophobic insults should be viewed as seriously as racism.
“We must uphold every child’s basic right to learn in a safe and secure environment, free from bullying.
“Bullying of all kinds is a scourge on young people’s lives and the human cost can be devastating.
“It can leave young people feeling helpless and isolated and can have a damaging effect on their learning.”