National Children’s Bureau wins work to tackle homophobic bullying

The National Children’s Bureau (NCB) has been awarded project funding from the Government to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying in schools.

The Sex Education Forum and the Anti-Bullying Alliance, both based at NCB, have been granted funding from a £2m package of support created by the Department of Education and Government Equalities Office.

The projects seek to address homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools which cause significant long-term damage to those on the receiving end and sour everyday life and relationships across the whole school. Both projects will address the lack of confidence that many teachers report in tackling HBT bullying.

The Sex Education Forum will deliver training for 1,500 primary and secondary teachers, starting in Leicestershire and Nottingham City before moving on to provide training in six additional local authorities nationwide. The training will build teacher’s ability to deliver a curriculum of sex and relationships education, within personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, which is inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and helps prevent bullying related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance will play a leading role in the Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) Consortium, which will start its work with 10 schools across Avon and Somerset to build understanding of HBT bullying amongst both staff and pupils. The programme will assist schools to take a whole-school approach to tackling the problem and develop resources for use across the curriculum, training staff to address HBT bullying wherever it occurs, including amongst pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. Training will then be provided for around 600 teachers, with best practice examples and resources from the project being shared nationally.

Lauren Seager-Smith, National Coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance said: ‘We know that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying can destroy young lives – this funding is vital to bring lasting change. Our particular role in the project is to consult with disabled young people about their experiences of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and to make sure schools are supported to make their anti-bullying work fully inclusive.’

Lucy Emmerson, Coordinator of the Sex Education Forum, said: ‘Sex and relationships education classes are an ideal place to learn about diversity and difference and about respectful vs bullying behaviour towards each other. Young people have repeatedly said that same-sex relationships and transgender people are often completely invisible in SRE. Teachers have also called for support in creating LGBT inclusive curriculum content and advice about how to tackle HBT bullying when it occurs. This project will ensure more children and young people benefit from good quality SRE, something we believe should be a statutory part of the curriculum in all schools.’

Minister for Women and Equalities, Jo Swinson, said: ‘It’s good news that schools are making progress on homophobic bullying, but it must be eradicated entirely. The trauma of being bullied at school can stay with you for life, and it is absolutely unacceptable that those who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender are being targeted. Teachers need specialist support and training to help them stamp out homophobic bullying, which is why we have funded these excellent projects which are designed to tackle this issue head on.’

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