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Gay rights charity urges schools to help kick homophobia out of football

Football squads across the UK will don rainbow-coloured boot laces this weekend in support of gay players as part of Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign. With professional and youth football clubs taking part, the campaign provides the perfect opportunity to get pupils talking about homophobia in sport and in school.

UK charity Stonewall first launched Rainbow Laces last year after research showed that 43 per cent of fans believed football to be an “anti-gay sport". With seven in ten fans also saying that they have witnessed homophobia at matches, it is no wonder that many young gay players would rather keep quiet about their sexuality or not take part in the game at all.

“Far too many young people are put off participating in sport because of homophobic bullying or ‘banter’ on the field and in the changing room,” says Hannah Kibirige, education policy and campaigns officer for Stonewall.

“We would urge teachers to ask pupils whether they’ve seen the Rainbow Laces campaign, why they think it has gathered such widespread support and why there are no openly gay players.

"Schools could also show our Rainbow Laces campaign video in an assembly or use it to host class discussions. They could even ask pupils to come up with their own awareness-raising event based around wearing rainbow colours.”

Players and fans are being urged to show their support over the weekend of 13 and 14 September by tweeting with the official hashtag: #RainbowLaces. You also can download free teaching resources to help tackle homophobia or find out more about the Rainbow Laces campaign.

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