Homophobic bullying still 'rife', say secondary teachers

Depressed boy Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The survey, commissioned by Stonewall Scotland, suggests homophobic bullying in schools is widespread

Nine in 10 secondary school teachers say homophobic bullying happens in their school, according to a poll.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by Stonewall Scotland, also revealed that a third of teachers hear homophobic language from other staff.

The poll suggests the problem is rife, but only 16% of teachers have had specific training to deal with it.

Some staff also said they were not allowed, or were not sure if they were allowed, to teach about LGBT issues.

The Teachers' Report 2014 showed that 89% of primary school staff and 83% of secondary school staff have not received any specific training on tackling homophobic bullying.

It also revealed that the majority of teachers in both secondary and primary education believe school staff have a duty to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying.

The vast majority of primary school teachers - 92% - said different types of families, including those with same-sex parents, should be addressed in the classroom.

Section 28

Introduced by the Conservative government in 1988, Section 28 prohibited schools and councils from using lessons or publications to "promote" homosexuality.

The law was scrapped in Scotland in 2000, but the YouGov poll revealed that 75% of primary and 44% of secondary school staff say they either were not allowed to, or were not sure if they were allowed to teach about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in their school.

Drama teacher John Naples Campbell, who has been teaching for more than 10 years, told the BBC: "There are still a lot of teachers within Scotland who believe that Section 28 is still there, or who were actually trained under Section 28 and haven't been given the training by the Scottish government to actually deal with (the issues) now."

"I think staff need to be more open… we need to be much more confident about being open within our classrooms about issues that affect young people in the world today."

'Troubling' results

Stonewall Scotland director Colin Macfarlane said it was "troubling" that so many teachers said they had never received specific training on how to tackle homophobic bullying.

He added: "That's why this year Stonewall Scotland launched a Train the Trainer programme which means we can work directly with teachers across Scotland.

"However, the responsibility cannot be ours alone. The Scottish government, local authorities, schools and other agencies must now make it a priority that every single teacher is trained to tackle all types of bullying and abuse in our schools."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "Every secondary school in Scotland has been sent guidance on dealing with homophobia and homophobic bullying, as well as the filmed adaptation of Stonewall's highly successful play for schools.

"Our national approach to anti-bullying sets out a common vision and aims to make sure that work across all agencies and communities is jointly focused on tackling bullying. We expect that all schools develop and implement an anti-bullying policy, which should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

"To support this we have established and wholly fund respectme, a national anti-bullying service, to build confidence and capacity to tackle all bullying, including prejudice-based bullying, effectively."

The Teachers' Report 2014 presents the findings from 260 respondents in Scotland. A total of 122 primary staff and 138 secondary staff were surveyed.

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