Thursday, 13 October 2011

Left Out of the Equation report show homophobia not tackled in Northern Ireland Schools

The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister last year produced their Draft Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration which as many people pointed out ignored LGBT issues, failed to promise to deliver a Sexual Orientation Strategy before 2012. Indeed failed to take us on much since the investigation intohomophobic harassment and violence of 2003.

Is it any wonder that with such institutionalised inaction by the NI executive that the Left Out of the Equation report from The Rainbow Project and Cara Friend looking at the experiences of LGBT young people at school is so harrowing?

  • 94 per cent said that there was nothing taught in sexual health education that was relevant to them
  • 87 per cent felt that their school took not effort to prevent homophobic bullying
  • 69 per cent said that teachers took no action to stop homophobic language and that 8% reported that staff laughed along or joined in
These are all figures that I would have expected in my school days over 20 years ago, the fact that this is still the case means that another generation of school children are going through the bullying that I endured and worse another generation are getting away with believing that it is alright to do so. 

The recommendations of the report are that:
  • Government must ensure that all schools are required to have an effective policy and intervention  strategy to combat homophobic bullying.
  • The Minister for Education must ensure that there is an appropriate complaints mechanism where pupils and their families can challenge the decisions of Boards of Governors.
  • The Minister for Education must ensure that the legal protections afforded to LGB people are not denied to young people.
  • The Minister for Education must ensure that all teachers are required to have effective training in how to intervene when they witness homophobic language and behaviour.
  • The Minister for Education must ensure that there is a legal duty placed on schools; that they must show due regard to the necessity of promoting equality of opportunity for all young people.

I look forward to finding out what the Minister of Education intends to do about these once he is not standing in as Deputy First Minister.

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