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Stonewall works with over 1000 schools and 60 local authorities around the country to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying – bullying based on prejudice or negative attitudes about lesbian, gay, bi or trans people. These are real and worrying issues in Britain’s schools that affect lots of young people.
University of Cambridge research for Stonewall, in the School Report (2012), revealed that 55 per cent of lesbian, gay and bi young people experience bullying at school. 75 per cent of trans people experience name-calling and 28 per cent physical abuse at school (Metro Youth Chances Report (2014). Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is also often targeted at other students, for example students who have LGBT family or friends, or students who are seen to be ‘different’ in some way or who don’t conform to gender stereotypes.
This bullying has a devastating impact on young people’s mental health, wellbeing and attainment. Lots of LGBT young people miss lessons for fear of experiencing discrimination and LGBT young people are more likely to self-harm or attempt suicide. Where HBT bullying is not properly addressed it sends a signal that there’s something wrong with being LGBT.
So how can schools challenge HBT bullying? Here are Stonewall’s top five tips:
- Begin by ensuring school policies explicitly state that HBT bullying is wrong. Communicate your anti-bullying policy widely and link it to school values like respect, acceptance and equality. Most staff have never been trained on how to meet their duty under the law and Ofsted to prevent and proactively tackle HBT bullying in school. Run training sessions – including for lunchtime supervisors, caretakers and governors- to ensure all staff are confident and equipped to tackle HBT bullying
- Record and monitor incidents of HBT bullying and language to help you identify key problem areas and measure progress.
- Develop a whole-school approach and provide ways for parents and carers and students to get involved. Ask students to write a student-friendly version of the anti-bullying policy and support them to set up anti-bullying or equality and diversity groups. Be open and transparent with parents and carers about your anti-bullying work through displays in school, home-school agreements, student planners and the website.
- Celebrate difference in the curriculum. Stonewall’s research shows that where schools talk about different families and LGBT issues positively, homophobic bullying is much less likely to happen. LGBT people, like people of all different identities, need to be brought to life in a curriculum that reflects the diversity of 21st century Britain.
- Celebrate your achievements and the progress you make in tackling HBT bullying. Use opportunities like Anti-Bullying Week, Safer Internet Day and LGBT History Month to create displays and hold assemblies and invite local groups or schools to take part.
Check out our Getting Started (Primary) and Getting Started (Secondary) toolkits for more information and support in tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in school. Sign up to a Train the Trainer course near you and your school will become a Stonewall School Champion.