Bullying of LGBT students has doubled in the last two years in the Northern English city of Manchester.
More than 600 incidents have been reported over the last six years. But between 2012/13 and 2014/15 incidents per year more than double to 160 per year.
The data comes from a report by gay rights campaigner and local councilor John Leech.
The former Manchester MP of ten years submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) inquiry to every high school in the city. He says it is ‘depressingly clear’ that homophobic and transphobic bullying is here to stay.
Only 36 of the 42 high schools in Manchester gave data into the report.
Mr Leech also raises concerns at the number of schools who had reported zero incidents in the last five years. He believes schools may be too worried to come forward with the real numbers.
The report details that bullying ranges from name-calling to physical assaults.
Leech, who also led the successful campaign to pardon war hero Alan Turing, says: ‘Bullying of any kind is completely unacceptable. To still have homophobia and transphobia rife in Manchester’s schools is deplorable.
“I have fought for LGBTQ+ rights my whole life and these numbers are really upsetting to see.”
Speaking at this week’s Liberal Democrats conference in Bournemouth the former MP further says: ‘We have absolutely no right to claim we live in a decent society when this kind of behavior is still rife in our schools.’
Half of LGBTI pupils hear homophobic slurs ‘frequently’
This year’s Stonewall’s 2017 School Report show levels of LGBTI bullying have decreased by almost a third since 2012.
However, the Government says further action is needed to teach students about the impact of bullying as well as supporting teachers to spot it in schools.
The UK’s gay equalities minister Nick Gibb says it’s time to end the use of gay as an insult.
He has launched a new £3 million ($3.96M, €3.29M) initiative aimed at tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
It will help over 1,000 schools this academic year who are launching projects in classrooms.
It comes in a partnership with organizations such as LGBT charity Stonewall, and children’s charities including Barnardo’s.
Equalities minister Nick Gibb says ‘Bullying at school is cruel. Particularly at a time when LGBT pupils are coming to terms with their sexuality or gender.
‘I am determined that we stamp out the use of the word ‘gay’ as a pejorative term and prevent bullying of all kinds so pupils feel safe and able to achieve their full potential.’