Teen school student takes on the homophobes

Posted May 20, 2010 by Andrew John
An 18-year-old sixth-form student in a British school has embarked on a crusade against homophobic discrimination. He says the practice has has become the backbone of schoolyard bullying.
Dan Darwood has armed himself with the slogan “Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!” and hopes to educate the school staff and, in turn, students at Shenfield High School in Essex.
Darwood recently became the school’s representative for the gay-rights lobby group Stonewall, who devised the “Some People Are Gay” slogan for a campaign, and says the frequent use of the word “gay” as an insult and offensive slang does a lot of the damage in schools.
He said: “You get it a lot in lower years [grades]. Everyone saying this is gay and that is gay.
“Imagine in Year 8 or 9 – you think to yourself, ‘I’m not attracted to girls – everyone is watching porn on their phone and I’m not into this.’ You think, ‘Maybe I’m gay,’ but if you relate gay to crap, does that make me crap?
“You think to yourself, ‘Is gay a bad thing?’
Batty boy
“I remember even in primary school being called a batty boy [a derogatory term for gay men taken from Jamaican patois]. I didn’t know what it meant and I don’t think they did, either.”
School students are not the only ones in the sights of the homphobes, says Darwood. Teachers, too, are victims.
“I have heard from others that students have even ganged up on teachers for looking gay or being gay,” he said.
Darwood readily admits that his school is certainly no worse than other schools, he believes more can be done to change attitudes and educate teachers, and he’s working with the deputy head in charge of student welfare, Jenny Comerford, to update the school’s “outdated” equality and diversity policy.