A major survey of Britain’s secondary schools has revealed that almost two thirds of lesbian and gay pupils (156,000 children) have been victims of homophobic bullying.
The School Report, the largest poll of young gay people ever conducted in Britain, presents a shocking picture of the extent of homophobic bullying undertaken by fellow pupils and, alarmingly, school staff.
The report concludes that sixty five per cent of lesbian and gay pupils have experienced homophobic bullying. Of those, 92 per cent (143,000) have experienced verbal homophobic bullying, 41 per cent (64,000) physical bullying and 17 per cent (26,000) death threats.
It goes on to say that 97 per cent of gay pupils hear derogatory phrases such as ‘dyke’, ‘queer’ and ‘rug-muncher’ used in school. Thirty per cent of lesbian and gay pupils say that adults – teachers or support staff – are responsible for homophobic incidents in their school
The survey of 1,145 young people, conducted by the Schools Health Education Unit for Stonewall, a gay rights organisation, also highlights the consequences of bullying for gay pupils.
Seven out of ten of those who have experienced it say it has adversely affected their school work. Half of those bullied say they have missed school as a result.
“These deeply disturbing figures should serve as a wake-up call to everyone working in education,” said Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive. “This is a damning legacy of Section 28, which deterred schools from tackling anti-gay bullying for so long. This remains one of the few sorts of bullying about which too many schools still take no action. It blights the lives not just of gay children but of thousands of pupils perceived to be lesbian or gay too.”
The report does demonstrate significant benefits when schools intervene. In schools that have said homophobic bullying is wrong, gay young people are 60 per cent more likely not to have been bullied. The incidence of anti-gay bullying also remains higher in religious schools.