Children’s minister: ‘Schools must do more to tackle homophobic bullying’

Jessica Geen April 6, 2009
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Schools have been warned they need to take more action to reduce homophobic bullying after a minister raised concerns that the issue is not being taken seriously enough.

In a letter to headteachers, children’s minister Delyth Morgan warned that some school staff and governors are not aware of guidance on how to deal with anti-gay bullying.

She wrote: “It is important to recognise that homophobic bullying, whether it is directed at a lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual young person, can be deeply damaging to that young person’s confidence and sense of self-worth and it can impact on their ability to realise their full potential and their future life chances.”

Official guidance from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) includes how to deal with derogatory use of the word ‘gay, what to do when a pupil comes out and how to work with those who bully or are being bullied.

The letter also reminds teachers that since Section 28 was repealed, there are no barriers to teachers discussing sexual orientation issues in the classroom.

Derek Munn, Stonewall’s director of public affairs, said: “Stonewall was commissioned to write this guidance by the DCSF. We know it’s needed now more than ever.

“Recent Stonewall research found that nine in ten teachers say pupils experience homophobic bullying in their schools. Yet nine in ten teachers also said they’ve never received training on how to tackle this problem.

“Stonewall welcomes the DCSF’s further push to encourage education professionals to take the issue seriously.”

The Teachers’ Report, published last month by Stonewall, found that teachers were still unsure of their legal position when dealing with LGB issues.

It found that more than 150,000 pupils are affected by anti-gay bullying, with boys who work hard, girls who play sport, young people with gay parents, and young people who are thought to be gay all suffering from name-calling and abuse.

Nine in ten secondary school teachers and two in five primary school teachers said pupils experience homophobic bullying, even if they are not gay.

Teachers reported that homophobic bullying was the most prevalent form of bullying after bullying because of weight, coming above racism.

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