Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tackling homophobic bullying

I have just written to my old school to ask them how they are tackling homophobic bullying.

To: info@bitterneparkschool.org.uk

Dear Ms Trigger,

As a former student at Bitterne Park Comprehensive School, I’d like to raise an issue that’s very important to me. This will be the third time I have written to the school to ask about this. I was very disappointed that I did not receive a reply to my previous emails, but perhaps this time it will be different.

I recently read Stonewall’s School Report, research conducted by the University of Cambridge into the experience of 1,600 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people in Britain’s schools. I was concerned to discover that more than half of LGBT young people are still experiencing homophobic bullying in schools, and almost all of them regularly hear the use of homophobic language. The study also found that this bullying not only negatively impacts on young people’s happiness and attainment at school, but can also have severe consequences for their mental health and well-being.

I remember that when I was a student at Bitterne Park, Section 28 was still in force, and a close friend was on the receiving end of homophobic bullying, and the teachers could not do anything to stop it. I myself was also on the receiving end of homophobic bullying, and found it demoralising.

Thankfully, the University of Cambridge research showed that in those schools that take simple steps to tackle homophobia, for instance by challenging homophobic language, levels of homophobic bullying decrease markedly and young people report feeling happier and more welcome in their schools.

In light of Anti-Bullying Week, which is coming up on 19-23 November, I thought you might like to know about Stonewall’s School Champions programme, which has been specifically designed to help schools develop strategies for tackling homophobic bullying. The programme is already working with schools across Britain and if you’d like to find out how to become one of them just visit: www.stonewall.org.uk/schoolchampions. Stonewall also has a wide range of education resources available on their website to help teachers reduce and tackle homophobic bullying – available at www.stonewall.org.uk/resources.

Thank you for taking my concerns into consideration and I look forward to hearing back from you. If you’d like more details about what Stonewall is doing during Anti-Bullying Week, you can visit www.stonewall.org.uk/antibullying



Anonymous said...

My school (I work at a Hackney primary school) and other schools within its federation have joined the stonewall campaign. So, unrelated, but might cheer you up a little to know that it is being taken seriously in at least some schools...

Anonymous said...

My school (I'm a TA) and its federated schools have all signed up. So, unrelated, but heartening...?