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Kids should be taught about gay equality says TUC chief

Stephanie Phillips July 4, 2008

The General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) had said that the only way to fight homophobic bullying at school is to teach kids about LGBT equality.

At the TUC’s annual LGBT conference in London Brendan Barber called on the government to include LGBT equality into the school curriculum in order to address the homophobic bullying in schools.

Mr Barber said:

“While the UK’s education system ought to be in the vanguard of the fight against homophobic discrimination, all too often it is in fact part of the problem.

“Whereas our schools and colleges have done much to counter racism and sexism, the same cannot be said when it comes to tackling homophobia. Despite some notable exceptions, too many educational establishments are breeding grounds for the worst kind of casual prejudice.”

A survey conducted by Stonewall last year was mentioned by Mr Barber at the conference.

The School Report found that over two-thirds of young LGBT pupils have experienced homophobic bullying, less than a quarter have been told that homophobic bullying is wrong in their school and one in six say they have had death threats.

A spokesman for the Schools Department told ITN: “Bullying of any kind is unacceptable. Homophobic insults should be viewed as seriously as racism. We must uphold every child’s basic right to learn in a safe and secure environment, free from bullying.

“Bullying of all kinds is a scourge on young people’s lives and the human cost can be devastating. It can leave young people feeling helpless and isolated and can have a damaging effect on their learning.”

Mr Barber said today:

“The consequences of all of this don’t just impact on academic attainment, which takes a pretty big hit.

“It does not just impact on mental health, which is suffering as incidences of self-harm rise. But also on the self-esteem of young LGBT people, which is being shattered.”

Mr Barber told the conference that the TUC has joined forces with the teaching unions, Stonewall and other LGBT groups to make LGBT equality education a priority for the government.

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