England

Councils tackling homophobia praised by Stonewall

Posed photo using models of bullying at school
Image caption Stonewall says 55% of young people are affected by bullying due to their sexual orientation

Schools in Hertfordshire lead the rest of the UK in their anti-homophobia work, according to the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, Stonewall.

Hertfordshire County Council topped the charity's list of councils which foster a supportive culture in their schools.

Education spokesman Chris Hayward said he hoped the recognition would encourage more schools to participate.

Other councils praised in Stonewall's index, now in its third year, included Brighton, Birmingham and Wiltshire.

Hertfordshire was also recognised for carrying out regular surveys among its primary and secondary pupils about bullying to help shape anti-homophobia work.

The index looked at a wide range issues such as how well schools monitor homophobic bullying, training for those who work with young people and working with other charities and groups.

According to the charity, 55% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experience homophobic bullying in schools across the country.

Brighton and Hove City Council won praise for its Allsorts Youth Project, which runs a drop-in centre for young people and also a training programme for people who work with youngsters.

Wiltshire Council was praised for its ZeeTee (zero tolerance) campaign asking pupils to sign a pledge and show their support for respecting difference.

Damian Haasjes, who runs the campaign, said: "It's making sure people are open to difference and clamping down on the derogatory use of the word 'gay'.

"It was about accepting difference - whether that's ethnicity or homosexuality. That's worked very well."

Wiltshire Council secured joint third place with Birmingham City Council.

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