Stonewall conference launches Teachers’ Report into homophobic bullying

Ashley Chhibber July 7, 2014
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Stonewall has published a report showing the extent of homophobic bullying in schools, at the charity’s latest Education for All conference, held for teachers and students on Friday.

The Teachers’ Report, which contains research conducted by YouGov of teachers across England, Scotland and Wales, indicates general improvements since the last report (published in 2009).

Nevertheless, 86% of secondary school teachers and 45% of primary school teachers still report that pupils in their school have experienced homophobic bullying.

Luke Tryl, Head of Education at Stonewall, told the conference: “Let’s go back to our schools and make them places where young people can reach their full potential.”

He spoke to afterwards about the need for better teacher training to combat homophobia in schools.

Dr Christian Jessen, a keynote speaker at the conference, said: “Telling kids that they are, quite simply, normal, is terribly terribly important.”

“You can soothe a confused and troubled mind with just a few short sentences. To do so is incredibly easy, but to not do so can have devastating consequences.”

The report particularly points out the need for school leaders to do more to support and guide teachers in tackling homophobic bullying.

It also indicates that Scottish schools appear to be lagging behind those in England and Wales in the fight against homophobia.

Ruth Hunt, Acting Chief Executive, was asked about the lack of representation of trans people at the conference. She told the conference: “I absolutely make a commitment to you now: the outcome of [Stonewall’s trans consultation] will be what is in the very best interest of the trans community and trans people, and from that we can establish the best role Stonewall can play in that.

“So, things are changing, and things are moving on that, but we’re not quite there yet, and we need to do what’s absolutely right, and that needs to be led by the trans community.” She told about the consultation process, and the roundtable discussion to be held with trans activists next month.

Guidance on sex and relationship education was another key issue discussed, included at workshops throughout the day. As Luke Tryl explained, “The guidance that schools have on PSHE… hasn’t been updated since 2000. It predates the repeal of Section 28.”

The conference closed with a panel discussion on LGB role models, featuring Ruth Hunt, teacher Oliver Beach (who featured on BBC Three’s ‘Tough Young Teachers’, singer Will Young and actor Alicya Eyo. During the discussion, the speakers told their own coming out stories, and all mentioned their desire for more gay role models growing up.

Students and teachers who attended or spoke at the event were very positive about the conference, and said they had learnt things which they would use in their schools.

As well as the report, the conference marked the launch of a new website for primary schools in connection with Stonewall’s film, FREE. Charlie Woodhouse, a pupil who featured in the film, said: “It felt like it meant something… Thank you Stonewall for letting me a part of this amazing adventure. Together we can change the world.”

The conference also included Stonewall’s Education Equality Index awards. This year the Index was topped by Brighton & Hove council.

Related topics: Education for All, Luke Tryl, Ruth Hunt, Stonewall, students, teachers, Teachers Report

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