Civic organisations and politicians across Scotland have called for a concerted action to tackle homophobic bullying in school following a report published by Stonewall Scotland.
A new YouGov polling released on Monday by Stonewall Scotland shows that teachers are still failing to tackle homophobic bullying in Scotland’s schools.
The Teachers’ Report 2014 reveals that nine in ten primary school staff (89 per cent) and more than four in five secondary school staff (83 per cent) have not received any specific training on now to tackle homophobic bullying.
The findings come only a month after the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee has agreed to take forward a petition to the Scottish government to make Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) compulsory in Scottish Primary and Secondary schools.
SRE has a proven impact on rates of sexually transmitted infections, teenage pregnancies (of which Scotland has one of the highest rates in Europe), domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment.
Reacting to the report, Alan McKenzie, spokesperson for the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) called upon organisations to come together and take concrete actions to tackle the homophobia in schools.
He said: “We have been campaigning for 2 years to bring knowledge the degree of homophobic bullying in schools to everyone’s attention.
“Therefore the finding of this report does not surprise us, we think that there is a need for additional training for teachers in dealing specifically with homophobic bullying, particularly awareness raising and putting in place strategies to support LGBTI youngsters.
“We’ve approached to Scottish Government who have encouraged us to continue our campaign and we would call on all agencies involved to work together, so we can find a solution to the issues.
“We would support the idea of SRE as it brings all the strands of issues together.”
Mhairi McMillan, Policy Director, LGBT Youth Scotland also stressed the need for organisations to work together and build on existing strategies.
She told KaleidoScot: “Today’s research from Stonewall Scotland backs up the need for the important work being done to address homophobia and homophonic bullying in Scottish Schools.
“LGBT Youth Scotland’s current campaign, ‘Shh! Silence helps homophobia’ gives us all a call to action, to stand up and speak out whenever we see homophobia as this will impact on a young person feeling safe and supported to stay in school.
“LGBT Youth Scotland is supporting schools to achieve an LGBT Schools Charter, which entails policy development, teacher training, peer led activities and LGBT inclusion across the curriculum as we know that this work combined truly makes a difference to the lives of LGBT young people, all backed up by today’s research findings.”
Glasgow Scottish National Party Councillor Austin Sheridan, who recently experienced a homophobic attack himself, expressed his worry following the report on twitter, stating: “Very concerning indeed. Lots of work still to be done on homophobic building in our schools.”
In a series of tweets, out lesbian Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, made an impassioned case for fighting homophobia: “It’s the suicide attempts that get me. We make our kids feel so ashamed of who are that they would rather not be at all. Anyone who thinks this isn’t real is kidding themselves.”
Colin McFarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, took to twitter to thank Davidson “for her strong words in support of our education research today.
Adding that it was “great that so many teachers have got in touch with us today interested in our training and resources.”
A Scottish government spokesman commented on the finidngs: “Every secondary school in Scotland has been sent guidance on dealing with homophobia and homophobic bullying, as well as the filmed adaptation of Stonewall’s highly successful play for schools.
“Our national approach to anti-bullying sets out a common vision and aims to make sure that work across all agencies and communities is jointly focused on tackling bullying. We expect that all schools develop and implement an anti-bullying policy, which should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
“To support this we have established and wholly fund respectme, a national anti-bullying service, to build confidence and capacity to tackle all bullying, including prejudice-based bullying, effectively.”