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Homophobic bullying ‘rife’ in Northern Ireland schools

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  1. Well durr. The north is rife with all manner of bigotry not just towards the gay community. There was a huge upsurge in violence and crime committed against Polish and eastern european migrant workers living in the north. With the Good Friday agreement the plebs can no longer fight amongst themselves so they turn their anger and hatred towards other sectors of society- immigrants, the lgbt community etc. The north is seeped in hatred, just listening to Iris Robinson in her heyday is enough proof that not only those in power are quick to offer an insight into the mind of a bigot.

    1. Ben Foster 13 Oct 2011, 2:22pm

      sadly that about sums it up.

  2. Derek Williams 12 Oct 2011, 1:52pm

    Bullying on any grounds is not acceptable, but it happens to LGBT youth more than any other target group. Incitement to suicide should be a crime, after all incitement to murder is, and is suicide not the murder of oneself? Until they criminalise bullying, it will just keep on going. Bullies must be punished, but of course long term we need restorative justice measures in place so bullies don’t become recidivists.

  3. Henry Stalford 12 Oct 2011, 1:58pm

    The problem in Northern Ireland is that the leading party tries to rule hand and fist with their bibles, and they get away with it because of scaremongering within the Unionist community… “Vote for us, and dont let the Shinners in” has been heard for many years here. Until people have the sense to make them put their bibles away and let this lovely little Province prosper how it should, out of the dark ages, nothing will ever change!

  4. I thought the Tories had claimed they had sorted out homophobic bullying in schools?

    I think not.

  5. Miguel Sanchez 12 Oct 2011, 2:32pm

    When in the hell will countries realize that CRIME is unacceptable. It doesn’t matter what it is, stealing or, in this case, assaulting someone.

  6. Isn’t the North largely Roman Catholic?
    I grew up Roman Catholic and homophobic bullying was part and parcel of the faith package where I grew up.

    1. Nope its mostly protestant in certains places

    2. About 52-48 between protestant and catholic. It’s marginally more protestant – Iris Robinson typifying the more monstrous type of protestantism – which is very popular.

    3. Ben Foster 13 Oct 2011, 2:23pm

      no. it is largely protestant. go figure.

  7. A few years ago, when one group of mothers brought their children to school through a housing estate populated by the oppsite Christian religion to themselves, they and their children were abused, things thrown at them, and their little girls were refered to as “whores” and “slags”.
    |n the hallway of the school, the headteacher had erected this large notice:
    “IF YOU WERE BORN WHERE THEY WERE BORN
    TAUGHT WHAT THEY WERE TAUGHT
    WE WOULD BELIEVE WHAT THEY BELIEVE.”
    Notice certain parallels?

    1. I think you should educate the readers of this site in highlighting that it was Catholic school girls being walked through presbyterian areas that were subjected to that abuse. It says a lot about a society where adults would shout threats, abuse and insults at school children. This situation got far more coverage in the republic of Ireland than it did in the UK. Policy makers in the UK would prefer to deflect this type of situation and instead send peace troops to Africa, the middle east and the likes when human rights are being abused on home soil.

    2. It was Catholic parents and children who came under attack. The Catholic community was disempowered from the inception of the sectarian state, and therefore the LGBT community should be able to create an alliance with this population. Look at SF and their policies as an example in alliances of the oppressed.

  8. Seems to me that the solution is summed up by the final paragraph of the article – If there is a properly framed legal obligation of care that is being failed, people are going to have to start to sue. Sadly, sometimes only money talks. If the schools won’t live up to their duty of care, they need to be forced to in whatever manner necessary. The problem is that it costs money, the solution is to have LGBT organisations in Northern Ireland fund some cases and do some good. We can’t make people “like” us, we can require those with a duty to live up to it rather than abdicate it.

    1. Totally agree.

  9. Cut it away from the rest of Ireland and push it up to Greenland.

  10. I go to school in Northern Ireland and hear ‘that’s gay’ or ‘faggot’ at least three times a day. Teachers don’t care. I did the day of silence last year and was asked, “So wait, you don’t hate gays?” Attitudes towards those who aren’t straight, white, Christian [protestant of course], and male, are abysmal. I myself am bisexual and have come out to a handful of friends, but it would only take for me to be found out by someone out of my friend group for me to be harassed into oblivion. I can’t imagine coming out and it not going terribly, and I don’t plan on coming out until late into my last year of school if at all.

    1. Hang on in there and make sure you at least have support outside school. Good luck with your life.

    2. HI we have youth groups for LGBT young people all over Northern Ireland. If you need any assistance at all please feel free to get in touch via our website glyni.org

  11. Firstly I’d like to say that comments such as ‘the North is seeped in hatred’ are not particularly helpful. Homophobia is a problem everywhere.

    Secondly, as a gay teacher in Belfast I’d like to let you know that some schools are addressing the problem of homophobia. In our school homophobic bullying has been brought forward as a whole school issue with the support of the Board of Governors and Leadership Team. So far all pupils and staff have taken part in a survey to find out about their attitudes and experiences. As a result of this it was decided to first address the problem of homophobic language. All staff have received training on a number of occasions so that they feel more confident about intervening when they hear the word ‘gay’ (or other terms) being used in a negative way. This involves educating the pupils, many of whom are shocked that I, and others find this type of language offensive. This will be an ongoing process, there is no quick fix, but we have started.
    Is our school perfect? No
    Does homophobic bullying occur? Yes
    Are we trying to do something about it? Definitely

    Finally, a big thanks to all at the Rainbow Project for highlighting this issue.

    1. Hilary,
      What a wonderful, affirmative piece; thank you for this and for re-assuring those who are not aware, that “something is being done about it” in Northern Ireland, in spite of the gossip and the backbiting.

    2. Ben Foster 13 Oct 2011, 2:25pm

      no comments like that arent helpful, but they are true. pretending otherwise allows it to continue.

    3. Generally the survey found that schools even though had opportunity to do something decided to ignore it. I came from a school who’s head publically outed a boy and referred him to councilling as the head teacher believed that the boy was mentally ill because he came out.

  12. What this article fails to mention is that in the North most schools are faith schools. Because of sectarian divisions catholic children tend to go to catholic schools and protestant children tend to go to protestant schools.

    Bizarrely for such a homophobic faith, the catholic people in the North tend to be more liberal and tolerant than many of the protestant faith.

    I’d like to see the sectarian breakdown of this study. Religion permeates all areas of the North, after all.

    1. If you go to The Rainbow Project’s website and look at the report, the survey results are broken down by school sector; Catholic Maintained, Controlled (Protestant) and Integrated. Most of the results are roughly the same across all three sectors.

      1. Sinn Féin and the SDLP, the north of Irelands two Nationalist and Catholic parties both are campagining for Gay marraige to be recognised in Ireland, both in the North and Republic. The Brit parties however…. not so much all of which are protestant

  13. The people of Ulster are wonderfully proud of their traditions of bigotry. But as we all know sometimes traditions begin to fade and need to be replaced by newer traditions. Obviously secterian bigotry is beginning to become old hat and a tad un-PC in the Province, but never fear, a new and fresher bigotry is on its way to replaces the old one, namely homophobia.

  14. In my school, homosexuality was almost always mentioned in RE but left out in science class. As you can imagine if wasn’t very positive.

    For five years I had to listen to my teacher say that gay people were hell bond and disgusting and that Jesus didn’t love them.

    I’m 18.

    Are religious teachers allowed to get away with that in the rest of the UK?

    1. Patrick, Dublin 13 Oct 2011, 12:07pm

      It is heartening to see (from Hilary’s) comments that there are active efforts being made to counter homophobic bullying in schools but sadly Northern Ireland is among the most bigoted, hate filled and homophobic places in the developed world. This is the ugly truth of the situation and when you have a political party like the DUP who continually attack LGBT rights and general equailty it shows just how far Northern Ireland has to go until it can call itself a truly modern, developed civilised society.

  15. Sad to see nothing has changed since the seventies,when I was at school.

    I left Ulster in the1980’s, mainly because of bigotry.

    Come on Northern Ireland. Religious bigotry is improving. There is no commandment,which states,Thou shall not be non-hetrosexual.

    1. when was the last time you were here. i work in the North of Ireland in a small little village in the Mournes, out to everyone here and not once have I EVER suffered any for of abuse or bigitory. Everyone knows everyone and looks out for you here and everyone will say hello to you on the street. i lived in London for 4 years, the most unfriendly, stuck up and pretentious place on the planet and was the only place I ever suffered from homophobic abuse. Im sick and tired of the fundamentalists at Pink News constantly running down the six counties of Ireland. why dont you come to this village and see how real people of the North of Ireland regard LGBT people. it might surprise ye!!!

      1. jdm1988,

        I am happy you love living in N.I.

        Not everybody in London is unfriendly stuck up and pretentious.

        Yes homophobia can exist in London too. I say good morning to people on the street here in London. Most of them,reply.

        I believe narrow mindedness is abundant in N.I. and it will take a generation to change things. Good Luck,to all living there.

        1. I dont live in the North, I commute from Drogheda in Co. Louth. not everyone in the six counties is narrow minded. I say good mornig to people here and everyone replies with a ‘ well, hows the form’. I wen to London with the same attitude, salute and say hello to everyone in my apartment complex and you would be lucky to get a grunt or else everyone else had a set of headphone lamped into their heads they just openly ignore you… So i have my opinion of London based on experience… most people on this site have an opinion based on the coverage the place recieves here.

  16. JohnWilliam 13 Oct 2011, 1:53pm

    There are problems to say the least. I live in Lisburn and remember a crowd of teenagers screaming homophobic abuse at me when i was down town that evening with my father and holding onto his arm to help him since he is going blind. They don’t care and they think it’s funny and it’s that problem that needs to be sorted out to stop bullying in schools.

    1. people like that dont discriminate… they just hate everyone because they hate their own lives so much. any decent Irish person would not tolerate that. i hope your father was ok afterwards

      1. Patrick, Dublin 14 Oct 2011, 1:33am

        Yes, but we should be asking why so many young people hate their own lives in the North. I’m based in Dublin and there’s plenty of casual homophobia here also – but Northern Ireland ( where O was born incidentally and where Most of my relatives live) is at a level of homophobic bigotry way above that of most of the rest of Western Europe. The legacy of 30 years of violence and murder, sectarian hatreds, an inward looking, claustraphobic mindset and Christian fundamentalism has left its poisonous legacy on the province. There’s no point in pretending a serious problem doesn’t exist when it so blatantly does. Better to acknowledge the problems and try to tackle them head on.

      2. JohnWilliam 14 Oct 2011, 4:56pm

        He was alright and thank you for asking. A bunch of them tried to trip him one night when they saw him out with his cane, but he got away from them without a problem. Which i’m thankful for because that same crowd beat a man and put him in the hospital because he dared to talk back to them.

  17. Jock S. Trap 5 Nov 2011, 4:37pm

    Sadly I am not surprised. These schools should be forced to tackle homophobia in the school, whether classroom or playground is goes against humanity.

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