Young people needed to ‘Speak Out’ against homophobic schools bullying

Whilst attending the opening event for UK’s LGBT History month in the Welsh Assembly at the start of this month, I was shocked to discover how few schools are actively stopping homophobic bullying. Less than a quarter of schools have told pupils that homophobic bullying is wrong. Half of teachers fail to respond to homophobic language when they hear it. And perhaps most shocking of all: 30% of lesbian and gay pupils say that adults – teachers or support staff – are responsible for homophobic incidents in their school. Unsurprisingly, the incidence of anti-gay bullying remains higher in ‘faith schools’.

I was reassured, however, to hear politicians presenting these statistics and to see a variety of LGBT campaigns groups motivated to make a change. These statistics come from a major survey carried out 5 years ago by Stonewall – the UK’s leading LGB campaigns organisation – where they revealed other key findings such as:

  • 65% of lesbian and gay pupils have experienced homophobic bullying
  • Of those, 92% have experienced verbal homophobic bullying, 41% physical bullying and 17% death threats
  • 97% of gay pupils hear derogatory phrases such as ‘dyke’, ‘queer’ and ‘rug-muncher’ used in school

The full report can be found here.

Now the research is being further explored. SPEAK OUT is a survey for young people in England, Scotland and Wales who are aged 11 to 19 and who are lesbian, gay or bisexual (or think they might be). Click here for more information and to take the survey.

I strongly encourage all those of the right age to take the survey in order to help the progress being made in tackling homophobia in schools. For those that aren’t, please advertise this amongst young people you know. By partaking in this survey, more concrete statistical evidence can be used to support the call for effective and active anti-homophobic-bullying policies across all schools in the UK.

Stonewall Cymru also provide additional information specific to Wales here.

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