Homophobia ‘rife in Greater Manchester schools’, says report

Homophobia is endemic in Greater Manchester’s schools, according to a new report which reveals that classroom abuse is taking place on a weekly basis.

The survey of more than 750 teachers from across the region reveals that almost 90 per cent have seen or overheard homophobic abuse in their schools.

Fifty-one per cent said they had encountered it among pupils on a daily or weekly basis – and one-third said they had regularly seen or overheard children target individual students with homophobic bullying or discrimination.

The Prevalence of Homophobia survey, sponsored by campaign group SchoolsOUT, and carried out by the National Union of Teachers, is the first of its kind to cover all of Greater Manchester and has taken around two years to compile.

It describes homophobic abuse and hate crime in the region’s classrooms as ‘endemic’ and ‘disturbingly high’ and aims to shine a light on the scale of the ‘murky’ problem and encourage school headteachers and politicians to do more to overcome it.

Those behind the report said they wanted to see action on homophobic abuse in schools brought more into line with measures to target sexual or racist discrimination.

They are particularly concerned about the way the issue is dealt with in some of the region’s academies.

Sue Sanders, national co-chair of SchoolsOUT, called on schools to put children’s safety ‘centre stage’.

She said: “This serial refusal to act in defence (of) a child’s right to be respected and safe damages tens of thousands of young people and such abuse is ignored and swept under the table.

“That on-going failure to protect our children is nothing short of a national disgrace.”

Teachers were asked to answer a number of questions on homophobia.

Fourteen per cent said they themselves had been the target of discrimination or bullying by students.

Ninety-seven per cent agreed or strongly agreed that the issue demanded action, although 89 per cent said they did not feel confident addressing it.

More than two-thirds said they would welcome training to better deal with homophobia in their schools.

The report, which coincides with the Manchester Pride festival this week, was launched at Manchester’s Northern Quarter last night at the premier of a play by the Pink Triangle theatre company. The production will be used to help schools tackle the problem.

Coun Paul Murphy, chair of Greater Manchester Police Authority, welcome the report and in its foreword said: “GMPA is committed to working with the police, local authorities and our partners, including the education sector, together with communities across Greater Manchester to tackle hate crime, which is why we welcome reports like this.

“The findings from the Greater Manchester Schools – Prevalence of Homophobia Survey will help us to strengthen our approach and build on our partnership working so that together we can tackle these issues head on,” Coun Murphy added.

The full report is downloadable here

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