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Schools Out national contact Tony Fenwick will be on Teachers TV during anti-bullying week.

He was invited to a North West secondary school to lead a discussion on homophobic bullying. Sixth formers from Turton Media and Arts Centre, near Bolton, and two other secondary schools were shown the locally made video Living It. Tony then asked them to discuss three things:
· why people bully
· why someone's perceived sexuality is still a common means of bullying
· what school communities can do to prevent homophobic and heterosexual bullying.

He said, 'The students were very receptive to the video and the discussion. They made some very good comments and their responses showed that they were in tune with the issues. Although none were homophobic, some accepted that they had used the word 'gay' to describe things that are cheap or don't work properly and some said they had a gay or lesbian friend at school who had no experience of bullying and couldn't see a problem. I hope I helped them to see that homophobic bullying is a problem; that it leads to suicide, self-harm, under-achievement and problems in later life; and that straight people are victims of homophobic bullying too. Above all I wanted them to appreciate that the school environment must be a safe space for everyone, so that they can be safe and comfortable with their sexuality - and that they have a responsibility to ensure that it is.'

After the group discussion, Tony was interviewed by Teachers' TV. Asked about how the media represents homosexuals in entertainment, he agreed that the stereotyping of gay characters as 'camp' since the 1970's may well have contributed to homophobic bullying, in 2005 Julian Clary and Paul O'Grady stand among a whole range of gay, lesbian and bisexual role models with whom young people can identify.

Tony said he was very excited by the work done in Bolton, where the Living It video and anti-homophobic bullying pack was produced. He was also delighted to see the work carried out by Christine Birchby, Head of Technology at Turton Media and Arts College (t:mac), who helped produce the video and has been actively working against homophobia with the schools pupils since 2001.

Sue Sanders 020 7635 0476
Tony Fenwick 01582 451424

Schools Out is the only national organisation dedicated to achieving LGBT equality in education. We celebrated our 30th birthday last year, making us one of the oldest groups in the community. Earlier this year, we launched LGBT History Month - our first major project after the repeal of Section 28, to reclaim our position in the curriculum. Please visit our website for facts and figures about homophobia in our schools.