Times have changed since I was at school in the late 70s and early 80s – and for the better. Back in my day if anyone showed the slightest hint of being gay then their school lives would be a daily torment of name calling and bullying. But, according to a report by the University of Cambridge, homophobic bullying in our schools is on the decline.
The report is the result of a study by Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research in association with Stonewall, the gay rights charity. It found that insulting language and physical abuse have both declined over the last five years, which is great news. But what else did the report uncover? Here are just a few of its findings:
- 45% of gay pupils are bullied because of their sexuality
- 7% of gay pupils have been physically abused (12% of boys and 4% of girls)
- 7% had also had their belongings either stolen or damaged
- 20% of those bullied have missed school as a result
- 61% of those bullied have self-harmed as a result
- 53% of gay pupils say they have no adult at school to go to for support
- 29% said teachers failed to intervene when they saw bullying taking place
- Bullying is on the decline. Though 45% said they were bullied, in 2012 the number was 55% and in 2007 it was 65%
- Schools are more likely to condemn homophobic bullying. 68% say it is wrong compared to 50% in 2012 and 25% in 2007
- Pupils are more likely to be taught about gay issues. 60% of schools teach them compared to only 30% in 2007
- South East England is the most tolerant region with 36% of gay pupils being bullied. The worst are Wales (54%) and the East and West Midlands (both 51%)
- 35% of schools have gay ‘groups’ where pupils can go for support from their peers
We like to think that we live in a tolerant society – it’s the 21st Century after all. Things are getting better but, with almost half of gay youngsters being bullied for who they are, there is still a long way to go.
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