Scenes from FIT.

Every secondary school in the UK is set to receive a DVD of a new film which aims to help schools tackle homophobic bullying.

Produced by British gay rights group Stonewall, FIT is described as an “intelligent, powerful and entertaining film”.

The storyline uses hip-hop, humour, colourful Adidas tracksuits and lively writing, similar to the series Skins, to communicate with pupils in a way that makes it easy for them to engage with the issues raised.

The interactive DVD has been devised to tackle homophobic bullying and encourage pupils to challenge their widespread use of the word ‘gay’ to mean anything inadequate. It is intended to give further support to teachers who have recently reported being extremely under-resourced in tackling homophobic bullying in their schools.

Recent research found that nine in ten secondary school teachers said pupils currently experience homophobic bullying in their schools. Yet nine in ten teachers have never received any specific training on how to tackle the problem. One in five secondary school teachers said they would not feel comfortable addressing gay issues in the classroom and one in six said they would not feel confident responding if a pupil were to ask questions regarding gay issues.

FIT is an adaptation of Stonewall’s highly successful play for schools, which was seen on tour by 20,000 pupils in Britain in 2008-9.

“When on tour I would ask the kids how many people thought homosexuality was wrong. In every single school the vast majority, about 80%, would put their hands up. But kids would come up after the performance and say quite openly ‘I walked into this room homophobic and will leave it a changed person,'” said FIT’s writer / director Rikki Beadle-Blair.

Britain’s Schools Minister, Vernon Coaker, has expressed his backing for the project. “I am grateful to Stonewall for their work on this DVD which aims to tackle homophobic bullying in the classroom. We will continue to look for ways to ensure that no child or young person has to suffer as a result of bullying of any kind,” he said.

FIT was produced with the support of a consortium of funders and will be sent out to every secondary school by the end of February with the support of the teachers’ union NASUWT.

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