Homophobic Bulling In Schools: Tell ’em how it was…

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This originally appeared in BCN issue 71

Stonewall’s latest campaign is ‘Education for All’, a nationwide initiative addressing homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools across Britain.

Sponsored by IBM, Education for All is asking headteachers across Britain to introduce effective policies to tackle homophobic bullying. Latest available figures suggest that just six per cent of schools have these, even though OFSTED has confirmed that homophobic bullying is as tough to address as racist bullying.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, called on headteachers to take seriously their responsibilities to the half million or so pupils in British schools who are growing up bisexual, lesbian or gay. “We’re still in regular contact with pupils who are victims of homophobic bullying. It’s entirely unacceptable in 2005 that Stonewall should be receiving calls from 16-year olds who have been prescribed anti-depressants because teachers are failing to prevent physical violence against them.”

“Evidence now demonstrates that young gay people… are more likely to leave school at 16 than their peers” said Ben Summerskill. “Many of those who leave cite experiences of bullying and violence and have had a history of absenteeism as a consequence. That compromises children’s life chances forever.”

Ken Livingstone will distribute 3,200 Education for All campaign packs to every school in London. It is expected that his initiative will be replicated across the UK. “Talking to pupils, parents and teachers from across the capital,” said Ken Livingstone, “I’ve become increasingly concerned that too many lesbian, gay and bisexual schoolchildren are still often denied some of their lifechances by casual and sometimes concerted bullying. I’m determined that all London’s children grow up with a fitting sense of self-worth and self-confidence.”

Education for All has been planned by Stonewall in partnership with FFLAG and LGBT Youth Scotland.

See www.stonewall.org.uk/education_for_all