Government plans crack down on ‘rape culture’ in schools after axing LGBT+ anti-bullying programme

Boris Johnson leaving Downing Street

The government will spend up to £750,000 to target sexist bullying and rape culture in schools months after axing crucial funding to protect LGBT+ children from bullying.

The new scheme launched by the Department for Education on Friday (16 April) will clamp down on “sexual” bullying amid concerns of a “rape culture” among students.

While it aims to cover abuse of pupils with protected characteristics, including LGBT+ children, the funding amounts to less than a fifth of that which was previously allocated to dedicated LGBT+ anti-bullying programmes.

Last year the Tory government scrapped roughly £4 million in funding for The Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic Challenge Fund, a programme which provided training and workshops for staff and students to combat anti-LGBT+ bullying.

The revelation came, ironically, during anti-bullying week.

Anti-LGBT+ bullying remains a huge problem in UK schools and can have tragic consequences for queer youth, who are already at significantly greater risk of mental health problems.

The government’s replacement comes as a tendered contract valued between £450,000 and £750,000, which private organisations are invited to bid for.

This money will be spread across the whole of the UK over a three year period, beginning on 1 August, 2021 and ending on 31 August, 2024.

“Bids should demonstrate how they will increase the quality of support and information available to schools; ensure support is based on the evidence about what works in this space; and how they will embed practice into other areas such as relationships, sex and health education,” the contract description reads.

“As a result of this programme, we would expect to see a reduction in the prevalence of bullying, including that of pupils with protected characteristics, as well as increased school confidence and ability to respond to incidents of bullying effectively.”

The contract emerged weeks after Ofsted launched a review into sexual abuse in schools, prompted by thousands of allegations of rape culture being sent to the anonymous testimonial website Everyone’s Invited.

Ministers had been accused of ignoring repeated warnings over sex abuse in schools before being “shamed” into action by the scandal.

As a result the government was forced to order an “immediate review” of the safeguarding policies in state and independent schools, and new NSPCC helpline was also set up.