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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Homophobia ‘endemic’ in Merseyside schools warn teachers (UK)

HOMOPHOBIC bullying has become “endemic” in Merseyside’s secondary schools teachers admitted last night.

And the Daily Post can exclusively reveal that almost one in three teaching staff working in Wirral, Liverpool and Warrington schools claim to hear pupils openly using homophobic language on a daily basis and 15% witness a pupil being abused every day just for being gay.
Last night union chiefs called for more training and teaching resources to be devoted to tackling homophobia which they claim is being made worse by some teachers’ watered down use of the word “gay”.
The claims comes as we exclusively reveal the findings of a North West survey of the National Union Of Teachers – around of third of which hailed from high schools in Liverpool, Wirral and Warrington.

The individual results of the three areas will be released in May and last night NUT officials said they will mirror the shocking results of the collective North West survey which found homophobic bullying is rife.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Post, Jeff Evans, the NUT’s North West lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advisor said the figures made a mockery of findings from Liverpool council’s annual anti-bullying audit of five to 19-year-olds.

The council’s audit showed the number of people citing their sexuality as a reason for being singled out has dropped from 6% to 4% and bullies admitting picking on a pupil because they are gay falling from 7% to 3%.
He applauded council-backed measures to tackle the problem but he said it was clear teachers needed more resources to combat the problem in a region reeling from the murder of gay teenager Michael Causer in Huyton two years ago and the brutal homophobic city-centre attack last October on PC James Parkes.

He said: “The results will show that like the North West, in Liverpool, Wirral and Warrington homophobia is endemic in schools. To suggest the problem is actually falling when every piece of evidence we have suggests the opposite is ill founded.”
The homophobia Liverpool, Wirral and Warrington teachers complained of he said “covered the whole spectrum” ranging from name calling to “assault”.

The survey of 740 teachers found that 31% of teachers overheard derogatory homophobic language coming from pupils’ every day, while nearly one in seven saw a child suffering homophobic abuse on a daily basis.
Teachers are also being abused due to their sexuality, with 3% complaining they are targeted every day.

Almost 70% agreed homophobia must not be allowed to go unchallenged but less than half felt confident enough to tackle a pupil on the issue.
Mr Evans added: “Teachers by definition address ignorance and are crying out to be given the tools to tackle this issue. If you don’t address the fear it festers in the tragic way it has been seen on the streets of your city.”
He called on schools to “celebrate difference” such as ensuring events like February’s annual LGBT History Month were marked in the classroom.

Liverpool council has received plaudits for tackling homophobia.
Gordon Brown earlier this year gave particular praise for the work it has commissioned educational charity Ariel Trust to do on its behalf – specifically its Denial learning pack addressing the issue of homophobic bullying and a vehicle for debate in English lessons.
The film and lesson plan charts the tragic story of a pupil targeted by bullies in the mistaken belief he is gay.
Ariel Trust director, Paul Ainsworth said the anti-bullying audit homophobia figures should be seen in context.
“Things like Denial are a positive case of making it easier for teachers to teach these issues. I don’t think anyone at the council is trying to argue homophobia has been sorted but what their statistics show is the positive start made and the local authority are saying ‘let’s build on that’.”

Liverpool Daily Post