A third of teachers in Wales hear colleagues using homophobic language

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A new report by Stonewall Wales has found that a third of teachers have heard colleagues using homophobic language.

The research by Stonewall Cymru attempts to show a picture of daily life in Welsh classrooms eleven years after the repeal of Section 28.

Shockingly, the research shows that a majority of teachers are unsure whether they are allowed to teach about lesbian, gay and bisexual issues, and are unsure of how to support LGB people against bullying.

The Teachers’ Report by Stonewall Cymru and YouGov reveals that 84%of primary school and 45% of secondary school staff in Wales say their school does not allow them to teach about lesbian, gay and bisexual issues or don’t know if they are allowed. Despite an overwhelming majority of teachers believing they have a duty to challenge homophobic bullying, 90 per cent of primary school and 79 per cent of secondary school teachers have not received any specific training on now to tackle homophobic bullying.

The polling also reveals that a third of secondary school staff (32%) and almost a quarter of primary school staff (23%) have heard homophobic language or negative remarks about lesbian, gay and bisexual people from other staff in their school.

In order to support teachers, Stonewall Cymru has recently launched a one day ‘train the trainer’ programme that offers advice and guidance to school staff wishing to challenge homophobic bullying. For more information please go to www.stonewallcymru.org.uk/ educationforall

Stonewall Cymru Director Andrew White said: “It beggars belief that more than a decade after Section 28 was repealed a majority of school staff still question if they are allowed to teach about lesbian, gay and bisexual issues. Teachers are the most powerful tool that we have in the fight to tackle homophobic bullying. Sadly our research shows that, despite some progress, the legacy of Section 28 lives on in Wales’s schools.”

Commenting on the report, Peter Black, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Equalities Minister claimed: “This report shows that the Welsh Labour Government’s bullying guidance just isn’t working.

“If, as this report suggests, a third of teachers hear homophobic language from other school staff, then serious questions must be asked about how well-equipped schools are to deal with situations where young people are experiencing systematic bullying because of their sexuality.

“I welcome the fact that Stonewall Cymru is putting a programme in place to help address the bullying, but the Welsh Labour Government must take a much more assertive stance in order to turn policy promises into reality”.