The Labour party are today unveiling their strategy for tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools. Under the Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt MP, the party are making the fight against LGBT bullying in schools “a Labour priority”.
Ed Miliband first spoke to Attitude in May 2014 about the issue, in a discussion about what a 2015 Labour government would do for the LGBT community. Now, the party have unveiled their plan to ensure the LGBT equality enshrined in law becomes a reality for all LGBT people – starting in schools. The strategy is broken down into five key points:
1. Training for every teacher and zero tolerance of bullying in every classroom
This involves training all teachers to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, with a “whole school approach” involving everyone from support staff to governors.
2. Compulsory and inclusive sex and relationships education
Labour would update this so children are given fully inclusive and age-appropriate information on LGBT relationships, same sex parents, and other general issues around technology and the Internet.
3. Teaching a 21st century curriculum that celebrates difference
Schools that teach and address LGBT issues positively see lower incidences of prejudice-based bullying. The agenda aims to celebrate further the contributions of LGBT people to our culture, as well as involving LGBT role models with school children.
4. A focus on mental health and wellbeing
Labour have committed to making mental health a priority in government, and this will extend to LGBT young people – 5.6% of whom have attempted to take their own life. School nurses will be trained to support LGBT young people and sign post them to relevant support services.
5. Empowering young people to make a difference
Young people will be encouraged to take initiative in tackling prejudice and bullying, as giving them ownership over standards and expectations has been shown to reduce prejudice based bullying.
Speaking to Attitude ahead of the launch, Tristram Hunt explained that his personal commitment to the cause was borne of a constituency issue, where a bullied child was finding school unbearable, and that he is committed to getting a “zero tolerance policy across all out schools”. He also confirmed they would work with all faith groups to make sure that all faith schools take the agenda seriously. He will launch the strategy today at Little Illford School in Newham, which is an OFSTED Outstanding School, and a Stonewall Champion. He will be joined at the event by actor and Attitude contributor Charlie Condou.
UPDATE: Following the launch, the Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan, released a statement reaffirming the coalition's commitment to tackling homophobic school bullying:
"Homophobic bullying can blight young people’s lives. It not only affects young people’s happiness and achievement at school, but can have severe consequences for their mental health.
"That’s why we made a tackling homophobic bullying a priority in the Coalition Agreement and since then we’ve invested in projects to train more teachers on tackling homophobia in the classroom and set out clear guidance on the importance of tackling all types of bullying, including homophobic bullying.
"We’re pleased that teachers are now reporting lower rates of homophobic bullying compared to five years ago and greater confidence in tackling this bullying.
"Of course there is no room for complacency which is why we recently announced a £2 million fund to support projects to combat this bullying in our schools and take us step closer towards our goal of eradicating this bullying from our classrooms."
- By Ben Kelly (pictured above, at left, with MP Tristram Hunt)