The gay Humanist charity, the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT), Britain’s sole independent gay humanist organisation, has added its voice to the growing concerns of the scale of homophobic bullying towards gay students in British schools.
The statement, issued by George Broadhead, the charity’s secretary, follows a new report from Stonewall on the issue, and is a follow-up to one the organisation published in 2007.
This time, while acknowledging some improvement in the level of homophobic bullying in schools, The School Report points out that it is still widespread and that the situation continues to be greater in schools administered by religious organisations than those that are not.
Only half of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) pupils report that their schools say homophobic bullying is wrong. This drops to 37 per cent in faith schools.
One in four (26 per cent) of LGB pupils report that teachers who hear homophobic language never challenge it. In faith schools, this jumps to more than one in three (36 per cent).
Faith schools are still less likely than schools in general to take steps to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying.
Of the report’s findings, Broadhead said, “This is a deplorable situation and the fact that the problem is greater in religious schools is not at all surprising. Hardly a day goes by without some report in the media about religious hostility to LGBT relationships and rights.
Broadhead then referred specifically to the figures relating to the UK’s religiously run schools. “Some of [the hostility], like that from the Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, is sustained and downright vicious. All this is bound to have a bad influence on both teachers and pupils in the ever increasing number of religious schools, ” he said.
The PTT – a long-time opponent of Cardinal O’Brien – criticised the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland earlier this year following his calls for same-sex couples to continue to receive unequal treatment under UK law as far as the right to get married is concerned.
Stonewall’s School Report 2012 also points out, “While no gay young people said they experience ‘bullying’ by teachers, 17 per cent say that teachers and other school staff make homophobic comments.”
Again, this statistic increases to 22 per cent for pupils in faith-based schools.
In 2010, Stonewall promoted the film version of Rikki Beadle Blair’s FIT, and Airings reviewed the “Skins meets Glee” movie, which tells of when “a last-chance dance class becomes a therapeutic encounter between adolescents struggling with their ideas about sexuality and adulthood”.
Educating the publicAs reported byGay & Lesbian Humanist, in research published in Stonewall’s original 2007 report, found that 65 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experience homophobic bullying, while a 98 per cent regularly hear the word “gay” used in a derogatory way in school.
Since 1992, the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has worked to try to educate the public about all aspects of homosexuality.
The Pink Triangle Trust derives its name from the pink triangle that gay men were forced to wear by the Nazis in concentration camps during the Second World War.
It is the publisher of the Pink Humanist and Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazines, a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), and each year sponsors the UK Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans History Month. Broadhead has been its secretary since its inception.
The School Report: The experiences of gay young people in Britain’s schools in 2012can be obtained from Stonewall.