March 3, 2011
British schools fail to protect LGBT children
New research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reveals the extent of homophobic and transphobic bullying in British schools. The damning report recommends that both schools and local authorities do more to help LGBT pupils.
The research review indicates that two-thirds of LGBT pupils experience bullying, with this figure rising to three-quarters in faith schools. One in six have received death threats. Most victims reported that nothing was done by the school to deal with the problem. A majority of teachers say that they are aware of homophobic bullying, but 90% have never received any training on how best to tackle it.
Findings also show that whilst racist abuse remains a serious problem in schools, homophobic and sexist language is more common. The researchers suggest that this may be because homophobic and sexist slurs are considered “more acceptable” and less taboo than racist language.
There is very little research on transphobic bullying compared to that on homophobia, but the situation appears to be particularly bad for trans children. This is compounded by widespread confusion about transphobia amongst local authorities, with over 20% “not confident” in providing relevant support for schools.
The report recommends that schools do more to promote diversity and encourages local authorities to gather more evidence on the extent of “identity-based” bullying, which may be disablist or religiously motivated as well as homophobic, transphobic, sexist or racist.
“Bullying is a corrosive element running through the lives of many young people,” said Baroness Margaret Prosser of the EHRC. “Parents should expect that their children will be safe in school, but that is not the experience of many school children.”
“Schools should have the support they need to address bullying. This could be through preventative strategies that really get to the root causes of prejudice and by having equality and diversity as key components of the core curriculum.”
Young people who are being bullied often see an impact on their school grades. Research demonstrates that they are 15 percentage points less likely to get five GCSEs at grades A* to C.
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