Schools Minister Condemns Negative Use of the Word ‘Gay’

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has attacked the use of the word ‘gay’ as a codeword for dysfunctional in our schools. At an Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) meeting he told the audience:“The negative use of the word gay is unacceptable. It is homophobic bullying and must be stopped.”

Schools OUT says: Since it came to power, this government has been clear through its Equalities Office statements that it wants to eradicate homophobia and transphobia.

The Minister has stated very clearly that policies of prevention and response to identity based bullying would be put in place among local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales.

We applaud that statement and are thrilled it is so unequivocal.

But how do we resource our teachers to respond effectively to homophobic bullying and how to prevent it?

We want them to train teachers in the same way we train members of the criminal justice system to be fluent in all the issues of equality and diversity. We need teachers to have the knowledge and confidence to create safe spaces to enable learners to explore the complex issues of difference prejudice and stereotypes.

We need to educate our learners, so they have clear knowledge and understanding of the diversity of the population and know the law of the land and what behaviour is expected of them.

The fact that the last 5 years have seen serious attacks and murders of gay men by young people still at school – or at school age – is a serious indictment on our schools and who they are sending out into society.

The Schools OUT Classroom, to be released in May, will give teachers the tools and resources to start this essential work, but our experience shows that they also need some post-graduate, INSET and CPD based training to give them the confidence to deliver on these demands.

We call on the Minister to rethink his hands-off approach. Furthermore, we ask that every teacher training institution and every school delivers regular equality and diversity training; followed up by an equality impact assessment on all the protected characteristics looking at all the institution’s resources – books, images policies and across the curriculum. The Prime Minister’s endorsement of LGBT History Month is welcomed. We wonder how many schools did celebrate it this year.

We find ourselves in agreement with the EHRC.

New research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that bullying based on students’ identities remains a widespread problem and is limiting the achievements of those who are bullied.

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