The newly-published 2014 Stonewall Teachers Report into teachers’ perceptions of, attitudes to, and ways of dealing with homophobic bullying in schools makes depressing reading at how little things have improved since the last report in 2009. Above all it shows that despite the efforts of organisations such as Stonewall to produce excellent teaching material, very few teachers feel adequately prepared for being able to deal with these problems.
Among the key findings were:
(1.) Only 6% of primary school teachers and 17% of secondary school teachers say that they have received what they consider to be adequate training on tackling homophobic bullying.
(2.) 86% of secondary school teachers and 45% of primary say pupils in their schools have experienced homophobic bullying.
(3.) 89% of secondary school teachers and 70% of primary school reported pupils used homophobic expressions.
(4.) 55% of secondary school teachers and 425 of primary said that they did not always challenge homophobic language EVERY time they heard it.
(5.) 33% of secondary school teachers say they have never addressed issues of sexual orientation in the classroom. The figure for same sex families is 56%.
(6.) More than a third of secondary school teachers and nearly a third of primary teachers have heard other staff use homophobic language.
Comparing this survey with the previous one in 2009, Stonewall conclude that there has been no improvement in the proportion of teachers who believe that their head teacher or governing body demonstrate leadership in tackling homophobic bullying. Even worse, a large number of teachers felt that they were either not entitled to or did not have the competence to talk about these matters in the classroom. Clause 28 continues to cast a long shadow.
What Needs To Be Done
What this report underlines is that there is no overall strategy for combating homophobic bullying in schools, nor any monitoring the effectiveness of what there is – not least among the victims. Until we have compulsory LGBT-inclusive PSHE in all schools with proper status, teacher training, resources,and monitoring the situation is unlikely to improve much – despite the heroic efforts of organisations such as Stonewall. To leave it to the individual schools as Michael Gove does amounts to criminal irresponsibility. The Secretary of State should be protecting young people – not leaving them in fear and ignorance.
By Colin Livett.