Pupils urged to report homophobic bullying

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The summer holidays draw to a close this week and we can soon expect to see our streets adorned in gangs of grey v-necks, untucked shirts and poorly constructed ties, but for some pupils the end of the summer means a return to playgrounds full of homophobic taunts and bullying.

Since May, gay charity Stonewall has been hosting an online survey to find out about young gay, lesbian and bisexual people’s experiences of homophobic bullying in British schools.

So far around 700 people have filled in the questionnaire and Alan Wardle, Stonewall’s parliamentary and public affairs spokesman is confident they can get 1000 responses by October when the research ends.

He told PinkNews.co.uk: “So far we can see that the bullying is pretty endemic.

“The key message is that the kids don’t really know where to go and not much is done about it.”

The survey is part of the charity’s Education for All campaign. The results will be used in a report to help schools understand the extent of homophobic bullying and the steps they can take to tackle it.

The software used on the site hides traces on the computer which protects privacy and confidentiality for children who may not be out to their families or may not be comfortable about their information being read in public spaces such as libraries or internet cafes.

“We come across appalling cases of schoolchildren being bullied every week,” said Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive.

“It’s only by knowing exactly what young gay people have experienced at school that we can take action to try and change things for the better. We need as many young people as possible to take part.”

Over twenty thousand postcards have already been distributed across Britain to encourage young people to take part. The survey is also available in hard copy for those unable to log-on to the website.

As part of this campaign Stonewall recently launched a Spell it Out DVD offering guidance and support for teachers to enable them to effectively tackle incidents of homophobic bullying within their classrooms.

The DVD will be distributed in all London schools and the Department for Education and Skills recently awarded Stonewall a tender to produce guidance on target homophobic bullying for all schools in the country.

The guidance produced will not just cover bullying in the playground but also online, Mr Wardle said: “As technology changes so does the type of bullying, we will be looking at cyber bullying such as text messages and emails.”

The survey can be completed at www.speakoutonline.org.uk