Minister to attend Schools OUT conference

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Kevin Brennan, a junior minister at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, will be one of the keynote speakers at an LGBT education event next month.

The Schools OUT annual conference will be held on February 2nd in the Drill Hall in central London.

Founded in 1974, Schools OUT Works towards equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in education.

A Youth Section addition to the organisation’s website that includes a ‘Young Person’s Toolkit’ to enable students to make their schools more LGBT friendly will be launched at the conference.

Mr Brennan, a former teacher, has committed the government to eradicating homophobic bullying from British schools.

In September the Department for Children, Families and Schools issued guidance to schools in England and Wales on how to tackle homophobic bullying.

It gives teachers, head teachers, school governors and support staff practical advice on how to recognise, prevent and respond to homophobic language and physical abuse.

It follows on from Stonewall’s wide-ranging study into homophobic bullying published in June 2007, entitled The School Report.

It found that nearly two thirds of LGB students reported instances of homopbobic harassment. That figure jumps to 75% of young gay people attending faith schools.

92% of gay, lesbian and bisexual pupils have experienced verbal abuse, 41% physical bullying and 17% have been subject to death threats.

30% of pupils reported that adults have been responsible for incidents of homophobic bullying in their schools.

Other speakers at next month’s Schools OUT conference include Stonewall’s senior policy officer Ruth Hunt and teacher Elly Barnes, Head of Music at Stoke Newington School.

There will be workshops on how to set up a Gay/Straight Alliances in schools, how the London Borough of Hounslow is taking LGBT issues into their primary schools and how current legislation can be used to further LGBT equality in education.

Gay rapper Q Boy will perform at the conference along with youth arts training company Peer Productions and hip-hop performer MZ Fontaine.

The event will coincide with the beginning of the fourth Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) History Month.

The minister for equality Barbara Follett launched History Month 2008 in December alongside the Attorney General Baroness Scotland and Professor Stephen Whittle OBE, the founder of trans rights group Press for Change.

LGBT History Month is described as an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the diversity of our communities by acknowledging the achievements and contributions of LGBT people, past and present.

For more information on the Schools OUT conference visit their website.