Stonewall’s research, called The School Report, is based on an online survey of more than 1,600 lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGBT) young people between the age of 11 and 18 and is the second in a long-term study commissioned by Stonewall and carried out by the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge.
Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall says many schools are still not taking the issue seriously. “I think some teachers – particularly those who were trained a while ago – think, mistakenly, that it is unlawful to teach children about homosexuality. Others dismiss homophobic bullying as banter.”
Suran Dickson, chief executive of Diversity Role Models, a charity that specialises in teaching diversity told OutNews: “Good for Stonewall for highlighting this problem once again, but neither the statistics nor the stories we’ve heard this week are surprising. I can’t believe that the Government has decided on a ‘hands off’ approach when all the research continues to show that it is a majority who are suffering this abuse. The Government must not go back on its early promise to build the aims of equality and inclusion into the national curriculum.”
“We know that teaching works and it works fast. Giving teachers more powers to tackle bullying only works if that bullying is reported and staff take it seriously. Those are big ifs. Most importantly, disciplinary powers don’t stop the bullying happening in the first place.”
“It is essential as a society that we recognise the huge disparity between increased acceptance of LGBT people in British society and the often unchallenged homophobia of the school corridors,” says Dickson. “We encounter homophobic and transphobic attitudes in every workshop we conduct. Over 50% of students say they could not be the friend of an LGBT person and some students express concerns over having a gay teacher. Just an hour or so later, 95% of students say they would treat an LGBT person better after participating in our workshops and 91% would try to use the word gay less in the pejorative once the implications of its use have been explained.”
Workshops like ours pave the way to much greater acceptance and understanding. Equality and inclusion need to be part of the personal and sexual health education curriculum to ensure that this form of education takes place across all schools in Britain. Leave it up to individual schools and teachers and these tragic stories will continue to emerge. LGBT young people need to be able to focus on learning, not self protection.”
“The Government must not go back on its early promise to build the aims of equality and inclusion into the national curriculum” – That is the response report on high levels of homophobia in the classroom from.