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New report on homophobic bullying shows continuing problems among ‘faith’ schools

A new report published by Stonewall has shown some improvement in the level of homophobic bullying in schools, in particular in ‘faith’ schools. However the report, entitled The School Report: The experiences of gay young people in Britain’s schools in 2012, has found that the issue remains widespread, and continues to be a greater problem in religious schools than elsewhere. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the decline, but believes more needs to be done to close this gap.

The 2012 School Report is the sequel to a previous publication by the same name which Stonewall issued in 2007. The 2007 report showed that two thirds of young lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) pupils at secondary schools had experienced homophobic bullying, but in ‘faith’ schools that figure rose to three in four. The report also showed that LGB pupils who attended ‘faith’ schools were 23% less likely to report bullying than those at other schools.

The new report has found that 55% of LGB pupils now experience homophobic bullying, and that ‘Pupils in faith schools are now no more likely to report bullying than those in non-faith schools’, thus showing some improvement.

However, the report also finds there is still a gap:

  • ‘Only half of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils report that their schools say homophobic bullying is wrong, even fewer in faith schools at 37 per cent’
  • ‘One in four (26 per cent) lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils – and more than one in three gay pupils in faith schools  (36 per cent) – report that teachers who hear homophobic language never challenge it’
  • ‘faith schools are still less likely than schools in general to take steps to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying’
  • ‘While no gay young people said they experience ‘bullying’ by teachers, 17 per cent say that teachers and other school staff, however, make homophobic comments. This increases to 22 per cent for pupils in faith schools’

BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘We welcome the progress that has been made in reducing homophobic bullying in schools thanks to the fantastic efforts of groups like Stonewall and Schools Out. In particular, it is pleasing to see the gap between ‘faith’ schools and other schools decrease, which we understand is in part due to specific targeting by Stonewall.

‘However, there is clearly some way to go to tackle this issue in general, and to tackle the disparity of the issue between “faith” schools and others. There have been at least three high profile incidents involving homophobic staff this year alone – the gap is still much too large.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson at richy@humanism.org.uk or on 0781 55 89 636.

Read the BHA’s previous comments, Methodists risk giving up all their education principles on a wing, 27 March 2012: https://humanism.org.uk/news/view/1010

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on Sex and Relationships Education: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/sex-and-relationships-education

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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