A head teacher in Sussex has spoken out in the wake of singer Will Young’s campaign to curb homophobic bullying in schools, by taking seriously the use of the word “gay” as a derogatory insult.
This is Sussex reports that Julian Grant, one of the town’s leading head teachers of Sackville School, plans to treat “gay” insults the same as any other offensive slurs.
He said: “In short, I would say the key issue here is that Sackville, like all good schools, takes all forms of bullying of any nature – including verbal bullying – very seriously.
“The school is open about confronting such issues, with swift and effective follow-up.
“What is also crucial here is that schools regularly review their anti-bullying policies with students. We listen to what they have to say and they are very good at evaluating the effectiveness of our policies.
“Our students tell us that we are robust in our responses to verbal bullying – quick, efficient and sympathetic. We do not focus on particular terms or words in such policies – we make it clear all forms of language used in a negative or hurtful way are unacceptable.
“Our commitment to this is reflected in the way that we handle such situations, which are pleasingly rare at Sackville.”
According to Stonewall, almost two thirds of young LGBT people have experienced homophobic bullying, and nine out of ten and more than two in five primary school teachers say that homophobic bullying occurs in their schools.
Will Young voiced his concern about the derogatory use of the word “gay” earlier this month, when he wrote: “We as a country are failing our children within education.
“We are failing them if teachers don’t immediately clamp down on homophobia and the negative hijacking of language. We are failing our children if we don’t allow them to grow up in a nurturing educational environment of acceptance and love for everyone.”
Young’s article in The Independent also mentioned Tesco’s recent blunder in which the supermarket chain advertised a “g*y best friend” inflatable doll on their website, saying “here was a paradox. A product that I presume had some vague intent of promoting equality and understanding was being sold with the actual word being obscured, as if it was something that shouldn’t be uttered out loud or displayed in print”.