Labour Research June 2009

Equality news

Homophobic bullying is widespread in schools

Three in five secondary school teachers and a quarter of primary school teachers have addressed sexual orientation issues in the classroom and 95% say they would do so again.

Yet the profession has a lot of work to do, as nine in 10 secondary and two in five primary teachers say pupils experience homophobic bullying, even if they are not actually gay.

The findings are revealed in The Teachers’ Report, a survey of over 2,000 teachers, commissioned by the Stonewall LGB equality charity asking them about anti-gay bullying. The survey, the largest ever of its kind, “presents a deeply alarming picture of the extent of homophobic bullying in schools,” says the charity.

Teachers say that homophobic bullying is the most prevalent form of bullying after bullying because of weight, and that the vast majority of incidents go unreported by pupils. Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said the survey “reveals how much remains to be done by our schools to demonstrate to all pupils that homophobic bullying is unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, 43% of secondary and three in 10 primary teachers have heard homophobic language or negative remarks about gay people from other school staff. In at least one case, a teacher from the north east said he felt there was a serious problem with his headteacher. He said that “he is, in my opinion, as bigoted as the bullies.”