High-profile homophobic bullying initiatives are failing to make a significant impact in preventing homophobic school bullying according to the Queer Youth Network (a national organisation by and for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered young people) in the UK.
The organisation says that the very nature of British schools need to be looked at in order to eradicate all bullying and that tackling homophobic bullying alone is a distraction from dealing with a much larger problem.
In the organisation’s national survey of young people from schools that had an anti-homophobic bullying policy 79% believed it had failed to make any difference to the level of homophobic bullying in their school, and 84% believed it was getting worse. An overwhelming majority (96%) concluded that homophobic bullying was hardly ever an issue on its own, but is often combined with other types of victimisation, such as ridiculing someone’s appearance.
Activist, David Henry of the Queer Youth Network (QYN) described the British school system as being an “Inherently flawed fossil, directly responsible for rising rates of suicide in young men, record number of children on anti-depressant drugs and spiralling anti-social behaviour…”
QYN believes that the “antiquated British school system” is the main reason behind most forms of bullying. It remarks on the traditional top-down school hierarchy – from the head teacher to the youngest, most vulnerable pupils. The organisation says that young people in turn create their own hierarchy with the ‘Dons’ or ‘Cocks’ of the school or class often being the ringleaders of the bully network.
The organisation claims that the system is especially promoted and supported in some private and grammar schools through the ‘head boy’ and ‘house’ systems. Large class sizes and lack of attention from teaching staff also means a great deal of bullying goes unnoticed, or staff feel poorly equipped to deal with occurrences, it says.
“School, as it exists today, is robbing young people of their right to develop their personalities, strengths and beliefs. Their respect for their environment and other people of different creeds, classes, sexual orientations, races and cultures is suffering,” remarks Henry.