With students across the UK returning to school for the start of the new term this week, Allsorts, the Brighton-based LGBT youth project, is raising awareness of homophobic and transphobic bullying.

The charity provides support, information and guidance for schools on the issue throughout Sussex.  

Project Manager Marianne Lemond says improvements are now taking place at several schools across the county, with many “working hard” in trying to reduce the problem, in the hope of making life easier for LGBT students.

Ms Lemond says the decision by Ofsted, the regulatory body for schools in England, to take a tougher stance against homophobic and transphobic bullying means teachers now have a greater requirement to tackle the problem.

However, despite reasons for optimism, Ms Lemond adds that a lot of schools in the county still have “a long way to go”, adding: “The short term and long term impact on young people who are being bullied can really be quite devastating in terms of their mental health and emotional well being”.

“From our experience of working with lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people, homophobic and transphobic bullying can have a terrible impact on their confidence and pride in their identity”.

“It can affect them for many years”.

Stonewall’s School Report of 2012 revealed 55% of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in British secondary schools have experienced homophobic bullying, while 99% hear the word ‘gay’ used disparagingly by other students.

The University of Cambridge was commissioned to produce the research and also found that nearly a quarter of gay young people have attempted to take their own life, with 56% deliberately harming themselves.