A ten-year-old boy has been placed on a hate register for calling a fellow pupil a ‘gay boy.’
It is one of the first publicised examples of how the government’s required hate registers are being used in schools. From this September, children as young as five risk being placed on a hate register if they make homophobic playground taunts.
The details of how hate registers are being used emerged after the mother of a ten-year-old boy in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, was told that her son’s name would be placed on a register and permanent school record following an alleged homophobic comment to a fellow pupil. Last December, PinkNews.co.uk reported that the government has asked all schools to record incidents of homophobic bullying.
It has been alleged that ten-year-old Peter Drury called another pupil a “gay boy” outside of school, but the mother of another child reported the incident to the head teacher of Ashcombe Primary School.
Penny Drury told the Daily Mail: “He doesn’t even understand about the birds and the bees, so how can he be homophobic?
“Peter is a very naive boy who didn’t know what he was doing and is now very upset as he is now in trouble. It doesn’t mean he is going to turn into a homophobic attacker when he is older.
“He must have picked up the word from somewhere and thought it to mean stupid.
“If I heard it I would have been the first to correct him and tell him not to use it, but putting him on a register seems way over the top.”
The boy’s parents asked the school if they would remove him from the register, but said the school’s head teacher refused.
Mrs Drury told the Daily Mail: “I’m now worried if this is going to affect him applying for universities in the future. I just think the whole thing would be better sorted out by the teacher or parent explaining to them that their language is wrong and not to do it again.”
Children’s charities have expressed concern that school pupils could be effectively being criminalised for playground banter. Michele Elliott of Kidscape told the Daily Express:” Children are being criminalised and singled out from a very early age when they don’t know what they’re doing.”
In a statement, the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: “Schools should take a common-sense approach to dealing with alleged racist or homophobic incidents by pupils.
“If a young child uses a slur, it should be judged whether or not they understand the meaning of the word and should be told why these words are hurtful as well as being appropriately disciplined.
“If bullying is not dealt with in schools, then this will send a powerful message to children that discrimination is acceptable not only in schools but in society as a whole.”