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Wednesday, 10 March 2010

New film to tackle homophobic bullying is sent to schools (UK)

Copies of a new film designed to tackle homophobic bullying are to be sent to every school in Scotland this week.
FIT, which tells the story of six young people trying to come to terms with their sexuality, is being distributed to the schools by Stonewall Scotland, which campaigns for gay equality.
The film will be launched in Scotland at a premiere in Edinburgh tonight attended by pupils, teachers and campaigners. It will then be sent to every school in the country over the next few days with the help of Teaching and Learning Scotland.

Carl Watt, the director of Stonewall Scotland, said yesterday that he hoped the film would begin to reverse the problem of gay bullying in Scotland, which he said was still serious.

“The research that we’ve conducted shows that two-thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual people are bullied at school,” said Watt. “Those young people are more likely to skip classes and drop out of education and then there’s the impact it has on their own self-esteem and confidence.”

FIT has been described as a gritty take on Glee, and Watt said he hoped the film’s direct approach would speak directly to young people. “It’s a different way of getting across the message of the damage homophobic bullying is causing in schools. It looks at it from the young person’s perspective in a medium that they are used to in that style of something like Skins.

“Because of the legacy of Section 28, there’s maybe a generation of teachers who don’t have the confidence, or haven’t been trained or given the resources to tackle homophobic bullying in schools. There’s not a lack of will, it’s just a lack of confidence and the appropriate resources.

“I would hope that all schools will look at this. I would hope that it’s going to be seen in the vast majority of Scotland’s schools.”

FIT was funded by a number of organisations across the UK, including the Scottish Government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland.

It is an adaptation of Stonewall’s play for schools, which was seen on tour at eight schools in Scotland in 2007-2008 and was written by the actor and performer Rikki Beadle-Blair.

Beadle-Blair said yesterday: “All bullying is rife and shocking and it stuns me that we seem to kind of accept it as if we’re still in Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Homophobia of any kind is archaic.”

Beadle-Blair said homophobic bullying also happened to people who aren’t gay. “People are attacked for not being enough of a boy, enough of a lad, and girls for not being the right kind of girl. It’s constant. The word ‘gay’ is in the hands of all these teenagers and young people and older people who thoughtlessly using it as a casual put-down for almost anything.”

Beadle-Blair said he was reluctant to criticise schools, but that more needed to be done. “I don’t want to criticise schools. I just want them to be better now. Yes, I think schools have been too slow to deal with it but I think we’ve all been too slow to deal with it.”
herald Scotland