Teachers in Merseyside have reported ‘endemic’ levels of homophobic bullying in secondary schools.

According to research undertaken by the National Union of Teachers in the North West, almost a third of teachers working in Wirral, Liverpool and Warrington schools heard pupils using homophobic language on a daily basis.

Fifteen per cent of the 740 teachers questioned said they saw a pupil being abused every day for being gay or lesbian. Three per cent of teachers said they were targeted because of their sexual orientation.

However, less than half felt confident in tackling homophobic bullying.

Liverpool has not held a Pride festival for ten years, despite being the sixth most populous metropolitan area in England.

The 2010 festival will be held in August, five days after the second anniversary of the death of gay teenager Michael Causer.

His murder was treated by police as a homophobic attack, although the judge in the case said killer James O’Connor, who was also 18 at the time, was not motivated by homophobia.

In October, trainee policeman James Parkes, 22, was set upon by up to 20 teenage boys in a gay-hate attack in the city’s gay quarter. He was hospitalised with a fractured skull but has made a full recovery.

The full results of the NUT survey will be released next month.

An annual audit by Liverpool council found that the number of students citing their sexuality as a reason for being bullied had dropped.

But Jeff Evans, the NUT’s North West LGBT advisor, told the Liverpool Daily Post that the council’s figures were wrong.

He said: “The results will show that like the North West, in Liverpool, Wirral and Warrington homophobia is endemic in schools. To suggest the problem is actually falling when every piece of evidence we have suggests the opposite is ill founded.”

Mr Evans added: “Teachers by definition address ignorance and are crying out to be given the tools to tackle this issue. If you don’t address the fear it festers in the tragic way it has been seen on the streets of your city.”