Schools OUT to launch homophobia toolkit for LGBT pupils

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An organisation that works towards equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in education will be unveiling a new resource for LGBT young people and their family and friends at the weekend.

Schools OUT will also be celebrating the launch of LGBT History Month 2008 at their conference on Saturday.

The event, taking place in the Drill Hall theatre in London, will feature a range of speakers from a government minister to a lesbian rapper, and a selection of empowering workshops.

The new ‘Student Toolkit’ is in the form of an interactive website covering five areas: climate of fear; abusive or offensive language; segregation, invisibility and lack of support; subject choices and safer sex.

The Toolkit offers information and model responses to young LGBT people and those questioning their identity.

It draws on legislation, guidance and research, and provides details of help lines, local groups and an anonymous email service.

Nigel Tart of Schools OUT told

“Recent guidance on tackling homophobia was aimed exclusively at head teachers, teachers and governors.

“While this is clearly crucial, young people also need ways to empower themselves. Our toolkit aims to do just that.

“Unlike existing guidance, our Toolkit examines the effects of, and links between, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

“We believe that all forms of discrimination are wrong, and we oppose the siphoning off of wider forms of gender based oppression.”

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families officially launched the homophobic bullying guidance yesterday.

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 homophobic 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.

Speakers at this weekend’s Schools OUT conference include Kevin Brennan, a junior minister at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, 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.

The event will coincide with the beginning of the fourth Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) History Month, an umbrella festival of community events celebrating LGBT history, identities and culture.

Nigel Tart said:

“We’re excited about launching this year’s History Month and we’re confident the number of events will pass 1,000 for the first time.

“Our website has an online calendar and loads of resources to help people put on events in their communities.”