Homophobic bullying common in many schools

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Homophobic bullying is still common in many schools and often goes unchallenged by teachers, a major report has found.

More than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have been bullied because of their sexuality, according Stonewall's new study.

It reveals that homophobic language is rife, with 96% of gay pupils reporting that they had heard comments such as "poof" or "lezza" used in schools.

Almost all (99%) of the more than 1,600 young people questioned said they had heard classmates saying phrases such as "that's so gay" or "you're so gay".

While over half of gay pupils had faced verbal abuse, around one in six (16%) had been victims of physical abuse, and almost a quarter (23%) experienced cyberbullying, the School Report 2012 found.

Dr Jonathan Romain from the Accord Coalition, said "Many staff and pupils endure a miserable, and sometimes also concealed experience in schools, due to homophobic bullying and attitudes. This kind of behaviour can have a huge impact on their sense of wellbeing, and in the case of young people, a negative impact on their social and academic development.

"It has been over two years since the Government published its Coalition Agreement, which stated that it would help schools tackle bullying and especially homophobic bullying. However, the Government has yet to demonstrate in policy terms what its commitment entails.

"Homophobia is worse within the faith school sector, but it is an issue that must be tackled in all educational establishments. The Government must therefore take firm action and work with education providers and faith groups, to ensure that schools better challenge prejudice and actively promote an acceptance of sexual diversity and transgendered people."

 Stonewall's study comes just weeks after an Ofsted report warned that name-calling is rife in many schools, but is often dismissed as simply "banter".

It found that pupils are using insults relating to sexuality, intelligence, race, appearance and family circumstances, with some saying it was acceptable if the words were being used between friends.

Ofsted said it was clear that pupils were using derogatory language outside the classrooms, such as in the playground, although at times it spilled over into lessons.

School Leadership Today
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