Gloria De Piero: Homophobic bullying can scar for life

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On the Labour Party’s new new campaign to clamp down on homophobic bullying, Gloria De Piero has said homophobic bullying can “leave a scar that remains throughout a person’s life”.

On Tuesday, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt announced that the party will make LGBT-inclusive Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) compulsory in all state schools, and that it plans to crack down on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

Mr Hunt said: “The presence of homophobic bullying in our classrooms, playgrounds and dinner halls is deeply troubling, and it is very real. The use of homophobic language and other forms of homophobic bullying is damaging the life chances of so many young people.

“It has a daily effect that limits learning, and causes people long term damage. There is no place for it in our society – and never should it be ignored in our schools. Schools have a duty to show a zero tolerance approach to the use of homophobic language and bullying.”

Shadow Minister For Women and Equalities Gloria De Piero told PinkNews: “Homophobic bullying can leave a scar that remains throughout a person’s life.

“We want our young people to grow up understanding and celebrating their identity and diversity. This is why Labour will ensure all teachers have proper training in dealing with homophobic bullying, to provide proper mental health support to young people and to make sex and relationship education – which teaches about diversity – compulsory in all schools.”

A journalist for the International Business Times criticised Labour’s new drive to tackle homophobic bullying, saying it is “lazy and wrong”.

PinkNews in September joined with a coalition of LGBT organisations and campaigners writing to political leaders in the UK to highlight a need for compulsory LGBT-inclusive SRE in all schools.

Cliff Joannou, the editor of QX magazine, today told PinkNews: “It’s great news that Labour recognise the vital importance of age appropriate sex and relationship education for young people. Unfortunately, while the Conservatives have made some great advancements from the party of old, they are increasingly looking more like they’re severely out of touch with the way young people live their lives today.

“The world has changed drastically in the last twenty years and the current education system is not supporting young people in the face of the pressures that come with a world that is dominated by social media and hook-up apps. There is too much wrong and inaccurate information out there available at the touch of a smartphone screen, not to mention inappropriate images and bad examples sexual health. We aren’t teaching young people about the value of relationships, how to address the pressures of body image and to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. The number of young people being diagnosed HIV positive is on the rise, and teenage pregnancies are too high – the only way we can combat all this is through decent education.”

A Private Members’ Bill, tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas, requiring SRE to be introduced as a provision of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education had its second reading postponed last year and will now receive parliamentary attention in February.

The Lib Dems have signalled support for the bill.

The Prime Minister responded to a question about whether sex and relationship education should be compulsory, saying “all schools” should teach the subject.

Last year, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan hinted that she could be moving towards supporting statutory PSHE – however she is yet to confirm her intentions.