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Photo – Emily at House of Commons LGBT Reception

Photo – Emily at House of Commons LGBT Reception

To mark LGBT History Month Emily Brothers joined Tristram Hunt MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, at Westminster last night to launch their plan to eradicate homophobic bullying in every classroom, playground and dinner hall. The plan has the backing of Stonewall, campaigner and actor, Charlie Condou as well as other leading rights campaigners.

Photo – Emily in the Parliamentary Union Reception for LGBT rights at House of Commons
Photo – Emily in the Parliamentary Union Reception for LGBT rights at House of Commons

Ms Brothers, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, who recently revealed that she is a gay woman with a transsexual history, explained that schools have a duty to show a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to homophobic and transphobic bullying. She said:
“Bullying that stems from people’s gender or sexual identity in our classrooms, playgrounds and dinner halls is deeply troubling. It has a real negative impact on many pupils. The use of derogatory language and other forms of bullying is damaging the life chances of so many young people. It has a daily effect that limits learning, and causes long term damage. There is no place for it in Sutton and never should it be ignored in any of our schools. That’s why schools have a duty to show a zero tolerance approach to the use of homophobic and transphobic language and bullying.
“It is very encouraging to see some schools already to embrace diversity, putting up posters saying ‘SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY. GET OVER IT! That symbolises tolerance and advances people’s liberation.”
Mr Hunt said that only by introducing new measures, will we rid the shadow of Section 28 that has been cast over our schools:
“The legacy of Section 28 – a most pernicious piece of legislation – casts a shadow over our education system, both for those that are new to the schools workforce and for those who worked in schools whilst it was in operation. That is why repealing Section 28 alone, is not enough. We need new training for new and long-standing teachers, and others in the school workforce. Strategies for education, dealing with both prevention and resolution. And we need to act urgently to prevent the plight of homophobic bullying that is damaging the lives and life chances of thousands of pupils.”
Under the plan, Labour will:
• Ensure that all new teachers are trained to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying;
• Provide support for those teachers already in the system to receive training to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying;
• Make age appropriate sex and relationships education compulsory in all schools;
• Promote mental health services for young people living with the consequences of homophobic and transphobic bullying;
• Provide a national best practice ‘toolkit’ to equip schools with the resources to tackle Homophobic, Biphobic and Transphobic bullying.
The announcement follows a Taskforce set up by Mr Hunt to consult and make recommendations on new measures to tackle bullying in schools and beyond.
Charlie Condou, Coronation Street actor and campaigner, welcomes the announcement:
“As a gay man, and as a parent, the tackling of homophobic bullying is obviously something that’s extremely important to me. School is where I want my kids to feel safe, to be nurtured and cared for when I’m not there. We’ve made so many advances for LGBT people over the last few years, but I truly believe that prejudice is learned behaviour and therefore we need to address LGBT issues at an early age. The word gay is still used as an insult in playgrounds across the country and the amount of young people still taking their own lives for being seen as different is quite distressing. I’m so glad that tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying will be a priority for the next Labour government, as always, leaders in the struggle for LGBT equality.”
Stonewall, a charity that works on a cross-party basis, welcomes the announcement. The scale of the plight of homophobic bullying has been revealed in figures from Stonewall (published today) that show of the current estimated 215,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in schools:
• 52,000 will miss school in response to homophobic bullying;
• 37,000 will change their future educational plans because of homophobic bullying;
• The school work of 70,000 will suffer because of homophobic bullying.

Image – Stonewall “Get Over It” Poster
Image – Stonewall “Get Over It” Poster

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