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Homophobic Bullying
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what measures her Department is taking to counter homophobic bullying in schools and colleges; and what the budget is for such measures. [205939] (2) what steps she is taking to prevent homophobic bullying in schools and colleges. [207477]
Derek Twigg: Homophobic bullying, as with any other form of bullying, cannot be tolerated and we must challenge homophobic language and attitudes wherever we find them and support our children and young people to do the
In November 2004, we organised the first ever National Anti-Bullying Week, in conjunction with the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), which had a strong emphasis on combating homophobic bullying. During the week, my predecessor attended the 5th birthday

10 Jan 2005 : Column 195W

celebration of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Award for Young People, where he announced a new Diana Anti-Bullying Award, for which we have given funding of £50,000. At this event, he also launched new guidance for schools entitled "Stand Up for Us: Challenging Homophobia in Schools" which was prepared by the National Healthy Schools Standard with considerable input from the Department. Stand Up For Us sets out a practical approach for schools to quickly assess the scale of homophobic bullying they face. And it offers practical steps schools can take to create an environment where everyone can feel welcome and valued and where specific instances of bullying are identified, challenged and dealt with effectively. During anti-bullying week, we also published "Homophobia, Sexual Orientation and Schools: a review and implications for action". This review, by the Thomas Coram Research Unit, looks at three areas: behaviour and bullying; teaching and learning about sexual orientation and relationships; and employment issues. It collates, summarises and assesses both peer reviewed research material, from this country and abroad, and less formal work conducted by bodies active in this area. It also reports the views of a wide range of organisations, 28 in all, with an interest in this area to paint a picture of how the issues are currently perceived. The report is available on the DfES website and the findings will be used to inform future work in this area.

The Department's work in this critical area is ongoing and we are currently supporting Schools Out in promoting the first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month in February 2005, and have funded the development of a website which will raise awareness and encourage participation. It will suggest activities and events that schools, colleges, universities, libraries, museums, galleries, archives, and theatres can organise and offers teachers specific lesson plans and assembly suggestions to encourage and support schools in marking LGBT History Month. It will also provide an online notice board of events and link to current news relevant to LGBT History Month. See more at

The Department has provided a further £600,000 to the Anti-Bullying Alliance to sustain the momentum for change. The Alliance will link with the work of the Department and join up with the key national strategies to work with schools and local education authorities to promote anti-bullying best practice across all schools, including countering homophobic bullying.