Tories axe vital funding to protect LGBT+ kids from bullying. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson just green-lit billions in defence spending
The UK’s Tory government has axed spending for crucial LGBT+ anti-bullying programmes, and given defence spending a £16.5 billion boost.
The Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic Challenge Fund, as it was initially called when it was launched in 2014 by then minister for women and equalities Nicky Morgan, allowed schools to provide training and workshops for staff and students to combat anti-LGBT+ bullying.
Anti-LGBT+ bullying is still a huge problem in UK schools, and can have tragic consequences for LGBT+ youth, who are already at greater risk for mental health problems.
On Wednesday (18 November), Diversity Role Models released a report which showed that almost half of LGBT+ students in England do not feel safe to be themselves at school.
Schools and training providers naturally expected the funding to continue but, according to the BBC, Boris Johnson’s government quietly axed the funding in March this year.
Despite 2020 being the first year that the funding was not extended, the Government Equalities Office said: “The anti-bullying grant fund, which provided 2,250 schools across the country with materials and training, was always due to end in March 2020.”
The revelation that the roughly £4 million funding to protect LGBT+ kids from bullying has been axed by the government has ironically come during anti-bullying week.
Just three days before, the Department for Education wrote on Twitter: “No child should have to experience bullying, in or out of school.”
No child should have to experience bullying, in or out of school.
— Department for Education (@educationgovuk) November 16, 2020
Nancy Kelley, chief executive of Stonewall, told the BBC that the funding cut would inevitable lead to students being left to “suffer in silence”.
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She said: “We know LGBT+ people are disproportionately affected by poor mental health, and some of this is because of the way they were treated at school.
“It’s crucial this government invests money in funding anti-LGBT+ bullying programmes across England.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, added: “If the government is dropping this funding, they need to explain what alternative plans they have to give schools support with challenging LGBT+ bullying.”
The UK’s Tory government has, instead, decided to give the military a £16.5 billion boost.
Boris Johnson said he was massively increasing defence spending during the coronavirus pandemic because “the defence of the realm must come first”.