Irish schools have been issued with a guide aimed to help teachers learn more about issues such as homophobic bullying.

The paper, titled Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Students in Post-Primary Schools – Guidance for Principals and School Leaders, offers advice on developing school policies to include gay students and how to support students when they come out.

According to statistics in the guide, LGB students are most likely to become aware of their sexual orientation at the age of 12. They are most vulnerable to self-harm at the age of 16 and the average age of coming out is 17.

It was launched by minister for lifelong learning, Seán Haughey TD.

He said: “I am delighted to launch this important resource which represents the culmination of a lot of hard work by all concerned and has had the committed involvement of all the education partners. It will be of very significant practical assistance to principals and schools leaders.”

The guidance was produced by the department and GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network).

Sandra Gowran, director of education policy at GLEN, said “This guide is a major step forward for schools. It will benefit all second level school goers, especially those who may be lesbian, gay or bisexual, by creating environments in schools that are more accepting of difference and diversity.”