The government will spend £2m on “creative ideas” to tackle Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in Schools. The money will be used to pay charities and organisations who bid to run projects amongst young people.
The funding was announced on the gay news service Pink News by the Secretary of State for Education and Equality Nicky Morgan. She said: “Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying are particularly pernicious forms of bullying, which are not only upsetting but also leave young people feeling isolated and uncomfortable with who they are.
“For all of the great advances this country had made in securing LGBT equality, these types of bullying remain stubbornly persistent – with a recent survey from charity Metro finding that the vast majority of LGBT young people had experienced some form of harassment or name calling.”
She continued: “This problem goes beyond direct bullying, we know that the use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult is endemic in our schools and we must take action to prevent this. This isn’t just an issue of ‘sticks and stones’ – the use of the word gay as an insult has a real impact on the self-esteem of young people, particularly those struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.
“We also know that in those schools which fail to tackle the pejorative use of the word ‘gay’ rates of direct bullying are also higher.
“The impact of this language goes beyond LGBT young people – it can affect any young person who is in some way different. We do not want a generation of boys who did not apply themselves academically because it was ‘gay’ or girls who could have excelled in sport but didn’t because they were scared of being labelled lesbian. The truth is, we don’t tolerate racist language like that and we should not tolerate homophobia in the same way.”
It is unclear what exactly young people will be taught as part of this scheme or whether parents will be consulted on the contents of the lessons.
Morgan has not always been popular with the gay community as she voted against gay marriage. When she was appointed Equalities Minister the gay community was very vocal in its opposition. She has since told Pink News that she “may” have voted differently the question was put now. This announcement is expected to quell those criticisms.