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.
Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network are delighted to announce that Diana Johnson has been overwhelmingly readopted as Labour Candidate for Hull North.
Diana has been exemplary in her support for LGBT causes. Last year she presented our petition calling for the outlawing of conversion therapy and was a leading advocate of Equal Marriage (see picture below).
Diana played a pivotal part in the setting up of our network. This year she has supported our campaign for compulsory SRE Inclusive PSHE Education and has worked with Stonewall on the particular problems faced by homeless LGBT youngsters. She has also been a leading campaigner against violence against women.
In addition to that, Diana has been a doughty champion of the people of Hull, who have been so hard hit by the Coalition-induced austerity. We wish Diana well and look forward to continuing to work with her.
By Colin Livett (Chair, Hull North CLP)
The Hull Daily Mail, in a survey published today 16th. August 201,reports that Diana has been the most active of all the members in Hull and the East Riding in terms of asking parliamentary questions and participating in debates.As well as the activities on LGBT right that we have documented Diana has been particularly active in defending the interests of Hull through such campaigns as that against the unfair treatment of the city as far as government grants to the city are concerned and the improvement of transport links such as rail electrification. Details of the survey can be viewed here www.hulldilymail.co.uk/active-mp.
On the 28th January this year the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords combined together to vote down a Labour amendment to the Children and Families Bill which would have made sex education mandatory in all state funded Primary and Secondary Schools. This — unlike the PHSE (Personal, Social, and Health Education) — have included a compulsory element of lessons on same sex relationships and hopefully thereby have helped tackle homophobic bullying as well as health problems among LGBT youngsters. Just days after Nick Clegg called for better cooperation between the parties, to tackle the spread of HIV his members in the Lords voted to perpetuate the ignorance that has and is playing such a large part in its spread. This followed on the defeat of a similar amendment to the same Bill in the Commons earlier in the year.
Also, in March 2013, the Commons defeated an attempt to make Personal Health and Economic Education a statutory requirement in schools. It remains the case that even in those schools under the direct control of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, it would be left to individual schools whether they adopted PHSE and whether such programmes included programmes designed to suit the needs of LGBT students.
At this time Yvette Cooper warned in Pink News that the failure to adopt such a programme would mean that nothing would be done to tackle homophobic bullying in schools. Youngsters were to be left in ignorance and fear with catastrophic effects on their well-being. In the 2013 Labour Party Conference in Brighton, she rightly implored to the Tory Education Secretary:
“Michael, this is the 21st Century – not the 19th. That is why a Labour government will make sure there is updated sex and relationship education for boys and girls, with zero tolerance of violence at its core. And we will make it compulsory too.”
Earlier this year at Hull Pride, the Hull and East Yorkshire Labour LGBT+ Network gathered over 700 signatures on the following petition:
“Recent research has shown that endemic homophobic research in schools has been worsening. This has resulted in high levels of poor mental and sexual health among young LGBT people. We believe that the Government and School Governors and College managers should ensure that effective LGBT education is made an integral part of the PSHE Programme and that this programme be made a part of the curriculum in ALL schools and colleges.”
We believe that this is more relevant and urgent than ever. However it is pointless to send such a petition or an e petition to Michael Gove. We would have more chance of persuading him to make the showing of Blackadder Videos a compulsory part of the teaching of WWI in school History lessons.
What we must do is to ensure that this goes into the Labour Party Manifesto as a firm commitment for the next election And it must apply to ALL schools without exception including Private and Faith Schools. The first Aids awareness Programme was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s. Its slogan was “Dont die of Ignorance.” She then counteracted this by introducing the notorious section 28 — which — shades of Putin — banned the ‘promotion ‘of homosexuality. Now we have section 28 back by the back door and as a result despite the excellent work being done by groups such as Stonewall – who revealed the full extent of the problem in their School Report, and which they have tried to counter through such initiatives as the School Champions Programme. But sadly only one out of three councils – despite the implications of the Equalities Act – are signed up.
The sad truth is that 30 years after the first campaign the government is ensuring not only that youngsters continue to die of ignorance, but also suffer from homophobic bullying and mental health problems.
The continuation of fear and ignorance cannot be justified. The cost in human suffering is too high. We must do what we can to campaign against it and stop it.
Come on Ed Miliband—-make a public commitment. Now.
By Colin Livett
Update: Two Cheers For Ed!
On 20th March, in an interview with Pink News, Ed Miliband confirmed that a Labour Government would make Sex and Relationship Education a statutory requirement for schools. Labour had already made it clear that this should be LGBt inclusive and friendly. He said ‘making sex education in schools compulsory is the right thing to do, it’s the right thing for our young people,it’s the right thing for our country,and we should have the courage of our convictions.’
Indeed we should Mr. Miliband and we hope to hear the Shadow Education Secretary—-who so far seems to have made a vow of silence on the subject—making a load and clear declaration of support on your stand.
We ask you to:
1. Make this a crystal clear Labour Manifesto Pledge—-there is nothing in the Draft Manifesto and the broader PSHE Programme is not mentioned either. Labour has made attempts to pass this into Law since 2010 and been thwarted by the Tories and Liberal Democrats. Please do not run scared from the sound of gunfire from the unelected House of Lords,the doomed Liberal Democrats who we suspect really agree with Labour on this or the prospect of unfriendly headlines in the Daily Mail—-of which you have already had experience and emerged the stronger.Please,as you say ,have the courage of your convictions.
2. Pledge that this will be for ALL schools publicly funded[of whatever variety ] or not. Children cannot be left in ignorance simply because of the type of school they happen to attend. Very few of them made their choice of school after all and yet it is them who will suffer from exclusion.
Then you will get the third cheer Ed!
Speaking at an event hosted by national LGBT Labour in Birmingham on 11th. April 2014, Labours Shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt,said the following, "We have manifesto commitment to compulsory sex and relationships education and updating the out of date guidance on it' This is welcome in as far as for the first time there is mention of a manifesto commitment.However there are some important gaps
1. There is no commitment that this will be in ALL schools
2 There is no mention at all of a PSHE Programme----just a stand alone sex and relationships one.This is a backward step
We need a comprehensive PSHE programme which would include an LGBT friendly Sex and Relationships programme and this should be at ALL schools.The issue here is not with compulsion as such but in ensuring that NO child should be left in ignorance.Consquently we will continue to campaign for a comprehensive PSHE Programme at ALL schools .
Colin Livett 17th April 2014
Writing in the latest edition of Progress Magazine,Gloria de Piero, Labour's Shadow Women's and Equalities Minister declared that SRE should be in 'all' schools. This is welcome but ambiguous. Presumably it includes all publicly funded schools including Academies and Faith Schools but nothing is said of privatly funded schools. So we have a situation in which Ed Miliband has promised compulsory SRE, Tristram Hunt has said that this will be an updated curriculum and is a manifesto commitment and Gloria has said it will be 'all' schools. This is welcome but it is NOT enough. It must be part of a broader PSHE Curriculum,it must be in all schools and must be a firm manifesto commitment. The danger of its not being part of a compulsory national curriculum in all schools were underlined at the National Union of Teachers Annual Conference on 22nd April where delegates claimed that, in effect , the notorious anti-gay Section 28 introduced by the Thatcher Government was still,in effect in operation because some subjects were not talked about and there was no effective anti-bullying strategy.. It was claimed that some academies and Faith Schools were still following a curriculum clothed in the homophobic language of Section 28---and teaching nothing beyond which compelled by the law.As Wes Streeting ,Head of Education at Stonewall told Gay Star News ,'Head Teachers and governors who are only prepared to even acknowledge the existence of LGBT pupils in the context of stopping them from catching HIV and AIDS are simply not up to the job of educating and safeguarding the children in their care."
We agree wholeheartedly---Labour must commit itself to a programme that ensures that NO CHILD IS ALLOWED TO BE LEFT IN FEAR AND IGNORANCE.
Colin Livett 24th April 2014
On 20th-21st July 2013, our network, along with trade unionists and the local Labour party, set up shop at Hull Pride to promote a petition from our newest campaign for stronger LGBT-inclusive Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE)in schools and colleges. We’re pleased to announce that at pride alone, we managed some 727 signatures. In the next year we’ll be gathering signatures for this petition more widely and possibly also launching an E-petition on the issue. The text reads:
“Recent research has shown that endemic homophobic bullying in schools has been worsening. This has resulted in high levels of poor mental and sexual health among young LGBT people. We believe that the government and school and college managers should ensure that effective LGBT education is made an integral part of the PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) Programme and that this be made a compulsory part of the curriculum in ALL schools and colleges.”
The Coalition Government is currently carrying out an enquiry into the operation of the Public Service Equality Duty [PSED] under the last Labour Government’s 2010 Equalities Act. The Act had the goals of eliminating all forms of discrimination, harassment and victimisation of various named groups and also being pro-active in advancing equality amd promoting good relations in the public services. It seeks to protect and advance the well-being of people in the following groups based on their:
Pregnancy and maternity
Religion or belief, and;
So in fact, it protected the interests of a large segment of the population. In brief, the PSED requires public bodies,such as the NHS, to ‘pay due regard’ to equalities in everything they do. Thus a disabled person and a gay man, for example, could equally expect that the NHS would try to meet their needs.
The recent Stonewall Survey on the NHS and Gay Mens’ Health showed how lamentably the NHS was failing to meet their needs, but under these provisions the NHS would have to make a better effort to do so. As such, of course there is nothing wrong with reviewing the effectiveness of the legislation and seeing what improvements need to be made. After all, however welcome a declaration that we are all equal, especially in view of past discrimination, this does NOT mean that we magically BECOME equal.
What gives real concern here is the MOTIVATION of the Coalition Government in undertaking this review. It has been undertaken, almost unbelievably, as part of Theresa Mays ‘combatting red tape’ initiative, not one of promoting equality. The very real danger is that the government will be looking for excuses to scrap the duty on the grounds that equality is too expensive – ignoring the fact that the ultimate cost of inequality can be far higher. There is also ideological opposition to it in that it means governments being too proactive and indeed interfering in the sacred ‘free’ market’.
The TUC in its evidence to the review points to the positive difference that the duty has ALREADY made in promoting greater equality, but showed how things still need to be improved. Here are some of their points:
(1) It has enabled the gathering of equality information and greater accountability as a basis for future action. (2) There has better engagement with protected groups such as ours although the recent Stonewall Survey has shown how far we still have to go (3) It has improved employment outcomes for protected groups such as women,the disabled and LGBT people. Despite this there is mounting evidence that protected groups are suffering disproportionally under the coalitions austerity programme. (4) Started to improve service delivery outcomes so that they more nearly meet peoples actual needs. This has particularly been the case for disabled groups although many of these have been negated by the governments overall economic policy. Scrapping the PSED would mean simply that the most vulnerable would be thrown to the wolves first.
The Fawcett Society, which has for so long championed women’s rights, have expressed their fears about what they think the Coalition is up to. They have accused the government of ‘a systematic assault on measures designed to protect women and minorities’ and expressed their fear that the government could well scrap the PSED completely. They have accused the government of ‘weakening the legal and institutional measures concerned with equality.’ Ceri Goddard, the society’s chief executive, said ‘over the past 40 years we have seen progress in equality laws, albeit quite slow. At the end of two years of the coalition government we have seen a reversal and dismantling of these laws.’ She went on to say that any attempt by the government to abandon the PSED ‘would be a systematic dismantling of the states role in tackling inequality.’
That indeed is the true nature of the threat we face. By its very nature a free market economy increases inequalities That is why state action is needed. The purpose of any review should be to enable the Act to meet its laudable objectives. Sadly the coalition has, backing up the points made by the Fawcett Society, already nibbled away at the effective operation of the Act by such means as:
(1) The watering down of specific duties (2) Refusal to use legal enforcement (3) A rollback on NATIONAL delivery standards (4) A lack of political leadership in favour of it (5) Cuts in staffing and funding for equality.
And of course, all of this has taken place against the background of austerity and in particular cuts in public services.
If there are weaknesses in the Act, they should be set right and NOT be used as an excuse to scrap a measure that the Tories never supported in the first place. The PSED has brought us limited gains but to scrap it would be a disaster. We must do what we can to stop this happening and work together with other threatened groups.
WHAT WE CAN DO TO DEFEND THE PSED
(1) Get yor MP to sign EDM 220 tabled by Sandra Osborne MP [who also tabled EDM 219 against Conversion Therapy which still needs more signatures] it reads: ‘That this House notes the review of the Public Sector Equality Duty now in progress; believes the Duty,albeit only recently introduced, has considerable potential to achieving the goals of eliminating all forms of discrimination, harassment or victimisation, advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations; recognises the value placed on the Duty by public bodies, non-governmental organisations and others; and calls on Ministers to reaffirm their commitment to the Duty and to support public bodies in implementing it effectively.’
(2) If you are a member of the Labour Party get your CLP to pass resolutions in defence of the PSED, possibly including a resolution to Annual Conference. This is an example, recently passed unanimously by Hull North CLP: ‘This CLP reaffirms its support for the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equalities Act 2010. It believes that the only purpse of the ccurrent government enquiry into the operation of the Act should be to improve its implementation and not to find excuses for watering down any of the duties of the Act. We consequently call upon the Labour Party to support the recommendations made by the TUC to improve implementation made in its submission of evidence to the Enquiry. We further believe that it is dangerous to assume that because we have a welcome Equalities Act enacted by the last Labour Government that we thereby HAVE equality or that such gains as have been made are safe from the attentions of the coalition government.’
It is also vitally important to ensure that local councillors are kept up to the mark in implementing the act There is widespread evidnce of the operation of a ‘Post Code Lottery’ whereby there are wide variations in how effectively the Act is being implemented.
(3) Do all you can in any organisations that you belong to to defend the PSED
WE ARE IN VERY REAL DANGER OF LOSING THE GAINS THAT WE HAVE ALREADY MADE AND OF SACRIFICING POSSIBLE FUTURE ONES. Please take action to persuade the government of the folly of such action. After all, all these minorities added together make a majority, and there will be an election in less than two years.
By Colin Livett
THE PSED MUST BREAK THE VICIOUS CIRCLE.
A recent report on how well public services in Manchester meet the needs of LGBT people in the city underlines that there is a low level of expectation from many LGBT people of the standard of service they will get.There is a widespread belief that they will receive discrimination because of their sexuality. Therefor many of them—not feeling able to stand up to this either do not access needed services at all or not disclosing their sexual orientation. This in turn means that the services concerned continue to be unaware of their real needs and as a result do not address them. As a result of that of course LGBT people will not only not get the services they need, but will be discouraged from accessing them again and most likely discourage others as well. That the services do not meet the needs of LGBT people will thus become a self fulfilling prophecy—-be it as a result of prejudice or of the public services not knowing. Or of course both.
The public service duty of the Equalities Act ought to be able to help here. One of its main duties is to gather data and assess and act on the actual needs of the various groups within its remit. Thus although there may have been limited advances on reporting and dealing with hate crimes, there are huge gaps in knowledge in other areas, such as homelessness ,domestic violence and sexual exploitation. AS a result of this LGBT peoples needs are not known and therefor adequately addressed
So we have a vicious circle. Because LGBT people have low expectations of services they either do not access them or hide their sexual orientation because they fear they will be discriminated against. Therefore—-even when not deliberately they are—-because the services concerned do not know what their needs are.
Services tailored to meet the particular needs of a group was at the heart of the Equalities Act
We must ensure that Labour strengthens the act . The potential good —not just for LGBT—but women ,disabled , BAME groups is immense.And our Party must help bring about its realisation. On a local level Labour should make sure that it has a voice in all of these groups and that they have a voice in the Labour Party.It ought not to be too difficult—–after all it is the most vulnerable that have suffered under the coalition government
Please help ensure that Labour commits —indeed strengthens it commitment to the PSED
High Court Judge, Mrs. Justice Laing has ruled that the ban on the “Gay Conversion’ advert on London Buses by the Core Issues Trust was legal.She ruled that it would give grave offence to those who were gay and was perceived as homophobic. The slogan ”Not Gay,Ex-Gay, Post- Gay and Proud’ increased the risk of prejudice and homophobic attack. It would interfere with the rights of gay people to respect and was ‘not a contribution to a reasoned debate’ Under the 2010 Equality Act [introduced in the dying days of the last Labour Government in 2010] Transport For London [TFL] had a duty to eliminate discrimination and harassment against gays and to foster good relations,tackle prejudice and promote understanding. Display of the advert would have been in clear breach of the law.
No clearer statement on the evil effects of the advocacy of gay conversion therapy could have been given It does not work,it exploits those struggling to cope with their sexuality and it fuels prejudice against LGBT people At a time when hate crimes and homophobic crime are endemic it incites more crimes by the false suggestion that sexuality is a matter of choice and can be ‘cured’
We congratulate Mrs. Justice Laing in her ruling. But surely the logical next step must be to ban not only gay conversion adverts but the practice itself.The government should protect vulnerale people fro m the harm ,exploitation and hate fuelling cused by this quackery condemned as it is by every single medical organisation recognised by the NHS
HIGH COURT REFUSES Core ISSUES TRUST APPEAL
The Claim by Core Issues Trust that London Mayor,Boris Johnson acted improperly in imposing the ban on London buses has today been dismissed by the High Court.Transport For London acted legally in banning the ‘ex-gay’ ban on London buses because of its offensiveness to the LGBT community. CIT have since claimed ‘that the British establishment is no longer a guardian of freedom of speech nor of conscience’Or .put another way, impose their bigoted views on others and treat LGBT people as second class citizens. Director of CIT Trust Mike Davidson has not had his freedom of speech curtailed. But less people are listening to the bigoted nonsense that over the decades has caused so much harm to LGBT people.
Colin Livett 30th July 2014
The following is an edited version of the statement issued by the British Psychological Society on 15th January 2013:
“[We] oppose any psychological, psychotherapeutic or counselling treatments or interventions…that view same-sex orientations…as diagnosable illnesses.
We believe that people of same.sex sexual orientations should be regarded as equal members of society with the same rights and responsibilities.
This includes freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change or ‘convert’ sexual orientation.
We believe that people of all genders and identities should be regarded as equal members of society and protected from potentially damaging therapies and pathologising.”
THERE IS NOT A SINGLE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION IN THE UK THAT SUPPORTS CONVERSION THERAPY. VULNERABLE PEOPLE MUST BE PROTECTED FROM THIS DANGEROUS QUACK.
What Tom’s excellent articles are essentially saying is that homophobia is learned behaviour, homosexuality is not. Bigots are not born, they are made. Homophobia is a social disease and it can be cured. Homosexuality is simply how people are . Homosexuals are born that way, it is not a disease and it cannot therefore be cured. Conversion therapy does not work and it does harm. Every professional medical organisation is agreed on that. They are also agreed that attempts to do so may do severe harm to the patient. Even if it could work it should not be tried. The problem with people’s sexuality is with other peoples attitude towards it .
Now, prompted by the Parliamentary Questions tabled by Diana Johnson MP, the Government has said that it too is of the same opinion.Sadly, however their answers also showed that the Government is prepared to do precisely nothing about it.
It is an achievement for our campaign that the Government has, for the first time, condemned the practice. Yet sadly it is prepared to do precisely nothing to prevent it taking place. This means that our campaign to effectively ban this practice is more urgent than ever. Of course the petition by itself will not achieve this, but it will be a start.Other action will be needed. The first petition to Parliament for Female Suffrage was signed by 1499 male electors. It took campaigners over half a century to achieve their aim and only then after a wide variety of campaigning methods. We cannot afford to wait that long. We may need to use other methods. But signing and presenting this petition,even if you do not agree with every syllable of it, is an essential start. Conversion therapy does not work and it hurts. We must stop it.