Don't stand for bullying

21st January 2005 at 00:00
Homophobic bullying is still rife in our schools. Eighty-five per cent of gay men and 69 per cent of women recount experiences ranging from name-calling to sexual assault. The ridicule and isolation can lead children to truancy or worse - with one study finding that 20 per cent of lesbian and gay pupils had been driven to a suicide attempt.

These are some of the reasons for welcoming the recent Department for Education and Skills and NHS joint publication, Stand Up for Us: Challenging homophobia in schools.

The document opens with a primary teacher's assertion that "challenging homophobia is part of our school ethos - we won't tolerate discrimination against anybody". And it is great to see the document applying itself to the primary sector.

Awareness of sexuality is something many have experienced in secondary schools, but primary colleagues still have a crucial part to play in combating homophobia.

It is at primary age that children learn the names that can become name-calling and the prejudices that will become bullying.

Stand Up for Us presents a range of actions such as tackling homophobic language and exploring diversity. Placing the document on our agenda begins to give the oft-overlooked scandal of homophobia the focus our institutions accord to other prejudices.

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