Stonewall spells out opposition to homophobic bullying

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Gay charity Stonewall and the Mayor of London will team up today to launch an anti-homophobic bullying campaign.

A DVD entitled Spell It Out, has been produced for distribution to teachers in all London’s secondary schools, and will be presented at Stonewall’s “Tackling homophobia in our schools” conference this afternoon.

More than 100 key decision makers in the education sector across Britain are attending the conference as part of Education for All, Stonewall’s new national programme to tackle homophobia and homophobic bullying in our schools.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone will give a keynote speech and launch the Spell it Out DVD. Other high profile speakers at the event include Jim Knight MP, Minister for Schools, and Geraldine Bedell of the Observer who will speak about supporting her gay son.

The conference aims to give education professionals an increased understanding of homophobic bullying and provide a range of practical and effective strategies to challenge it.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said “This DVD pack is an important step towards tackling the homophobic bullying that damages the lives of so many young people.

“It’s vital that these young people have a safe environment in which to reach their potential and that other young people learn to grow up with a sense of respect for people who are gay.”

Mr Livingstone said: “I gave a manifesto commitment to work with the teaching profession and lesbian and gay Londoners to tackle the problem of homophobic bullying in our schools and the Spell it Out campaign is an important step in raising awareness of this issue.

“Pupils should not be bullied because of their sexual orientation or because of their perceived sexual orientation.

“Despite the hard work of many teachers we still have a very long way to go to eliminate homophobic bullying from schools. It should be a basic expectation that all pupils in our schools should be able to complete their studies without experiencing the problem of bullying. Many young people are denied the opportunity to achieve their academic potential because of homophobic bullying, exclusion and harassment.

“There are many extreme examples of violent and unpleasant homophobic bulling, but we also have a huge mountain to climb to eliminate the so-called low level abuse and prejudice, such as using terms like ‘gay’ as a term of denigration, which only legitimise harassment and exclusion.

“I hope Spell it Out will motivate London’s school staff to work together to tackle homophobic bullying and make London’s schools safer and more pleasant for everyone”.

Stonewall members marched at last weekend’s EuroPride rally with placards calling for the sacking of Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles after he used the word “gay” in a derogatory way to describe a ring tone.

A spokesman from Stonewall told “Chris Moyles is not helping young LGBT people struggling to come out through his comments.”