Tackling LGBTQ+ Intolerance in our Education
An estimated 5% of people living in the UK are either lesbian, gay or bisexual, yet the number of people who experienced homophobic bullying in schools was at a shocking 55%* in 2012. Often, victims of this kind of bullying don’t want to talk to an adult about it, as they have not told anyone about their sexuality yet. They are worried that they would receive a negative reaction from their parents, because as many as 50%** of LGBTQ+ young people have. Homophobic bullying has been reported in primary and secondary schools. It may be directed at young people of any sexual orientation.
Homophobic bullying in schools can be a problem in a number of ways:
- Children who experience it have their education disrupted. They may be unable to concentrate on lessons because of feelings of fear or anger, and their self-confidence may be damaged. As a result of this, they might not fulfil their full academic potential at school. LGBTQ+ youth miss more than five times as much school as other students because of bullying. They are also twice as likely to say that they were not planning on finishing school or going on to university.
- Some victims are driven to the edge of despair or beyond, with lasting consequences for their emotional health and development.
- The bullying of LGBTQ+ youth increases the risk of suicide attempts by almost six times.
- Schools that ignore it or deny its existence are definitely not encouraging young people to develop a concern for the welfare of minorities and tolerance of difference, both of which are good qualities for later life.
How we can incorporate it into our education
An interview was conducted in Beaconsfield High School about which aspects of the LGBTQ+ community should be taught about more in schools, and students suggested tolerance and sex education for all types of relationships. Many people thought that this could be useful, as it can make schools into an all accepting society for everyone, and therefore make students feel much more safe and comfortable in their learning environment.
Personally, we believe that homophobic bullying should be treated as seriously as any other kind of bullying, and that all teachers should be specially trained on how to combat it. We also think that tolerance and diversity should be taught as part of our PSHCE lessons, as this would greatly benefit our ability to be accepting as adults. Only around one in five students are taught about safe sex for same sex relationships, as the teachers are only instructed to teach children about heterosexual relationships. We believe this is not acceptable, and that all students should be taught about how to be safe, regardless of their sexuality.