Homophobic Abuse and Bullying in Schools

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2007 National LGBT Conference
20 September 2007
Carried as Amended

Homophobia, biphobia, sexism, gender stereotyping and transphobiais rife in schools and statistics bear witness to this. A recent Stonewall Survey found that:

1.65% of lesbian and gay school pupils have been bullied because of their sexuality;

2.Half of teachers ignore homophobic language when they hear it;

3.30% of pupils say that adults are responsible for the bullying.

Kevin Brennan the newly appointed children’s minister has vowed to stamp out homophobia in classrooms (Pink Paper 12 July 2007) and suggests that teachers need to be better equipped to deal with anti-gay abuse with knowledge, skills and the confidence to deal with incidents of homophobic bullying. This follows years of lobbying by education unions and LGBT groups and individuals. However, the Government is yet to accept the need to legislate to stop discrimination on grounds of gender identity and gender expression in schools, which is equally widespread and damaging. Indeed in its consultation, the Government was opposed to extending protection from discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment to the area of education in schools. UNISON has made clear its strong opposition to this failure to extend such protections to all pupils.

It is still the case that whereas racist insults are challenged and there is no doubt they are unacceptable, and illegal; homophobic insults are routinely used in the media and in schools. To call something that is naff or unacceptable gay is often not challenged and is in such common usage that even the Oxford Dictionary is considering including this definition in its updated volumes.

Legislation is now in place that gives Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people more protection than ever, hate crime has now been widened to include homophobia but still young LGBT people are being routinely subjected to hearing homophobic biphobic, sexist and transphobic slurs and insults on a daily basis at school and in the media. Whether this is directed at them or not the effect is repressive and some young people have even been driven to suicide as a result.

There are strong links between the casual use of homophobic biphobic, sexist and transphobic language on TV and radio and the widespread use of such terms in schools.

This is an unacceptable state of affairs and therefore this conference calls on the National LGBT Committee to continue its work on this issues, welcoming the joint work by education unions to raise the profile of the need to stamp out such language and to challenge homophobia biphobia, sexism, gender stereotyping and transphobia in the same way as racism is challenged.