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.’
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.
Dominic Arnall, Head of Projects and Programmes at Stonewall has welcomed the initiative. Speaking about the importance of tackling bullying he says bullying has ‘a deeply damaging and long-lasting effect on young people.’
He says though anti-LGBT bullying has decreased, ‘half of LGBT pupils say they hear anti-LGBTI slurs “frequently” or “often” at school. This is unacceptable.’
One school’s Vice Principal says the work they’ve been doing with Barnados that fed into this initiative is already helping students. Michelle Colledge-Smith believes ‘The success has allowed students to be able to express themselves more freely.’
Michelle Colledge-Smith believes ‘The success has allowed students to be able to express themselves more freely.’
Questions still remain over LGBTI inclusivity of sex and relationship education
Earlier this year, the Department for Education (DoE) made sex and relationship (SRE) education mandatory in all secondary schools. In includes age-appropriate relationships education in all primary schools.
However, the government is yet to clarify whether they will include LGBTI narratives.
This year’s National Student Pride focused on SRE and together with Terrance Higgins Trust they called on the government to bring in compulsory LGBTI sex and relationships education.
THT’s Alex Phillips, Policy Lead for Relationships and Sex Education told Gay Star News ‘we must now ensure the content and delivery of SRE benefits all young people wherever they go to school, whatever their sexuality.
‘Our report found that 75% of young people were not taught about consent and 95% were not taught about LGBT relationships at school. This isn’t good enough, and must change to help students to make positive and informed decisions, and to have healthy relationships with themselves and others.’
Speaking to Gay Star News about recent documentary ‘Growing Up Gay’ queer artist Olly Alexander replicated these calls:
‘LGBTI sex and relationship education is one clear way to help students who are struggling. I know it’s a tricky conversation in terms of schools that have pupils with a mixture of faiths. It becomes a flash point that is not easy for schools to address. But I do think we need it.’
The DoE has said it is updating its guidance so it reflects the challenges pupils face today, including LGBT issues.