Edinburgh City Council excels in tackling homophobia

A Scottish council has been named as among the best in Britain at tackling homophobic bullying and celebrating difference in its schools.

Gay rights charity Stonewall has included Edinburgh City Council in its top 10 local authorities list.

Edinburgh, which was placed seventh in Stonewall's Education Equality Index, was the only Scottish local authority to make the grade and is the first Scottish local authority to appear in the top 10 list, compiled this year for the third time.

The index measures practice and policy at all participating local authorities. This year, entries were submitted by 42 local authorities, making it the most competitive index to date.

Local councils must answer 23 questions across three areas, allowing them to assess their performance and benchmark progress year-on-year to see how they compare with others. The questions touch on everything from staff training to how good practice is spread.

Research conducted by the University of Cambridge and published by Stonewall in its School Report 2012, showed that more than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experience homophobic bullying in Britain's schools. Three in five gay students who experience homophobic bullying say that teachers who witness the bullying never intervene.

Edinburgh schools recognised that homophobic bullying took place and had a range of ways to deal with it, said Paul Godzik, Edinburgh City Council's education convener. "A lot of very positive work is carried out in our schools to promote equality and tackle discrimination and bullying, so I'm delighted that Stonewall has recognised the efforts of the council, school staff and pupils," he said.

Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: "Homophobic bullying has a detrimental impact on the attendance, achievement and life chances of young people, so it's fantastic to see the work of City of Edinburgh council highlighted through the index to inspire others to take action."


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