Homophobia is unfortunately still a worldwide problem and homophobic bullying in some schools still remains an issue. That is why Stonewall Cymru has introduced the School Champion Programme in order to train teachers how to effectively handle harassment.
“Stonewall Cymru is the all-Wales Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Charity and their aim is to achieve equality for LGB people at home, at school and at work.” – stonewall cymru
Their 2007 school report (researched around Britain) found that almost two thirds of gay, lesbian and bi sexual students are bullied and 97-98% of young people hear homophobic remarks on more than one occasion. Not only that but shockingly three in ten primary school teachers have heard negative comments about gay people from other school staff. Teachers know not to tolerate racist language so why should homophobic remarks be any different? Unfortunately homophobic slurs are seen as slang or part of the ‘norm’ with comments like “that’s so gay” being viewed by some as part of everyday language. Surprisingly some teachers even deny there is a problem. As well as the home environment, school is where children learn about social interaction and emotional intelligence thus teachers need to be tougher in tackling LGB harassment.
Homophobic bullying affects even those students who are not homosexual and as well as verbal and physical abuse, can also include gossiping, cyber abuse and intimidating looks. Bullying for any reason decreases academic performance, increases truancy and diminishes the victim’s self esteem. By not effectively dealing with this issue, schools can be viewed as condoning this behaviour. According to Stonewall’s research, only a quarter of schools say that homophobic bullying is wrong and sixty two per cent of lesbian and gay pupils reported that nothing happened to the bully after telling someone. Thus those students suffering bear it in silence.
This is why Stonewall Cymru has their School Champions Programme which is part of their Education For All campaign in order to promote an inclusive learning environment. They aim to give high quality training to staff in the prevention and tackling of homophobic harassment. They provide schools that join their programme with certain benefits such as free access to practise seminars as well as regular opportunities to network with and learn from other schools which have been successful in tacking homophobic bullying. Stonewall’s research showed that if schools explicitly stated that homophobic bullying is against the rules, lesbian and gay students were more likely to feel safe and positive in their school environment.
Pupils are not normally taught about lesbian or gay issues and suffer from a great lack of resources as well as role models. That is why projects such as the Schools Champions Programme and the ‘It Gets Better Project’ have come about. The latter was created by Dan Savage to show homosexual youths that they are still able to live happy, successful lives despite the harassment they may have received. This has gained a lot of support not only from the public but also from many A-list celebrities who make their own videos in support for this cause.
See a video by President Obama for the It Gets Better Project
As well as prevention and effective anti-bullying techniques, there should be open discussions on this topic rather than keeping it a taboo in order to bring about more awareness. Ultimately bullying for whatever reason is detrimental and hopefully with the increase of more anti-bullying projects, we will see a replacement of homophobic bullying with an openness to lesbian and gay issues.
Article compiled by: Amina Malik