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Homophobic bullying reduced in schools

While bullying has reduced in past five years, 45% of LGBT pupils still experience bullying as a result of their sexuality

Published on 28th June 2017

Homophobic bullying in schools has reduced over the past five years, according to a study carried out for the charity Stonewall.

While 45 per cent of LGBT pupils in Britain’s schools still reported being bullied for their sexuality, the figure is down from 55 per cent of pupils in 2012.

“Since the 2007 School Report, the number of lesbian, gay and bi pupils bullied because of their sexual orientation has fallen by almost a third. The number of schools who say this bullying is wrong has nearly trebled, and homophobic remarks are far less likely to be heard. Thanks to the dedication of teachers, schools and governments across Britain, more LGBT young people than ever are able to be themselves at school,” said Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall.

“But while there is much to celebrate, this study shows how much there is left to do. Nearly half of LGBT young people are still bullied for being LGBT at school, and only one in five have learnt about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships at school. LGBT young people continue to experience unacceptably high levels of poor mental health. Online, nearly all LGBT pupils are exposed to offensive content about LGBT people, and just one in three think that online companies will do something about it if reported,” she added.

Ms Hunt warned that things were particularly concerning for trans pupils after the report found that  nearly two in three trans pupils are bullied for being LGBT at school, one in 10 have received death threats, and more than two in five have tried to take their own lives. While a growing number of schools are supporting their trans pupils, too many are not equipped to do so. Ms Hunt says it is vital that this is remedied “as a matter of urgency”.

The study by the Centre for Family Research found:

  • Half of LGBT pupils (52 per cent) hear homophobic language ‘frequently’ or ‘often’ at school,
  • More than a third (36 per cent) hear biphobic language ‘frequently’ or ‘often’,
  • Almost half (46 per cent) hear transphobic language ‘frequently’ or ‘often’
  • 86 per cent of LGBT pupils regularly hear phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ in school
  • Almost half of LGBT pupils (45 per cent) who are bullied for being LGBT never tell anyone about the bullying

In addition, the report highlighted that fewer than a third of bullied LGBT pupils (29 per cent) say that teachers intervened when they were present during the bullying. Seven in ten LGBT pupils (68 per cent) report that teachers or school staff only ‘sometimes’ or ‘never’ challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language when they hear it.

Seven in ten LGBT pupils (68 per cent) report that their schools say homophobic and biphobic bullying is wrong, but just four in ten (41 per cent) report that their schools say transphobic bullying is wrong.

Two in five LGBT pupils (40 per cent) are never taught anything about LGBT issues at school while just one in five LGBT pupils (20 per cent) have learnt about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships. Three in four LGBT pupils have never learnt about bisexuality at school and three in four LGBT pupils have never learnt about gender identity and what ‘trans’ means at school.

Other key findings include:

  • Two in five pupils who have been bullied for being LGBT have skipped school because of this bullying

  • Half of bullied LGBT pupils (52 per cent) feel that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying has had a negative effect on their plans for future education

  • More than four in five trans young people (84 per cent) have self-harmed. For lesbian, gay and bi young people who aren’t trans, three in five (61 per cent) have self-harmed

  • More than two in five trans young people (45 per cent) have attempted to take their own life. For lesbian, gay and bi young people who aren’t trans, one in five have attempted to take their own life.

  • Two in five LGBT young people (40 per cent) have been the target of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse online

  • Nearly all LGBT young people (97 per cent) see homophobic, biphobic and transphobic content online

  • Two in three LGBT young people (65 per cent) think that online platforms are unlikely to do anything about tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic content or incidents when it is reported to them.

The report calls on the Department for Education to ensure that new statutory guidance on relationships and sex education (RSE) and relationships education is developed through thorough consultation, explicitly requires all schools to teach about LGBT issues in an age-appropriate way, and is supported by high-quality, inclusive resources and training for teachers

The DfE should also develop practical, statutory guidance on supporting trans pupils at primary and secondary school and share best practice from the ongoing Anti-Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic Bullying Programme and develop new projects based on needs and issues identified.

The report also calls on schools to ensure that teaching staff are trained in online safety, supporting LGBT pupils and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Head teachers, senior management and governors should send out a strong message to all pupils and staff that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and language is not acceptable.

Schools should provide information on LGBT topics and signposting to online resources and LGBT organisations, including local LGBT youth groups, to all pupils and should have a plan in place to support the health and wellbeing needs of LGBT pupils.

Plans to tackle bullying and support LGBT pupils should be drawn up in consultation with LGBT pupils and schools should talk to parents and carers about their work to combat homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and support LGBT pupils.

“Thanks to government and cross-party support, compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE) is set to become a reality in England’s schools. This is a vital step towards ensuring that all young people are equipped to make informed decisions about their lives and relationships. It is crucial that updated RSE guidance explicitly includes LGBT young people, and is supported by high-quality resources and training for teachers,” said Ms Hunt.

“As we look ahead, we must keep sight of our shared mission: to create a world where every young person can grow up happy, healthy and supported to reach their full potential. While much has changed over the past decade, it is clear we cannot be complacent in the fight for equality,” she concluded.

School Report 2017

 

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