Tuesday , 25 June 2019

Growing up with school homophobia in Scotland

Bullying can traumatise youth, picture by Diego Grez
Bullying can traumatise youth, picture by Diego Grez

During my school life, from primary six to fourth year at secondary, I was constantly bullied for being gay. I would get called names such as “poof”, “faggot” and “queer”.

I was punched, kicked and pushed. It was a very dark time and I would skip school by pretending to be sick.

Lee Martin
Lee Martin

I first reported this when I was in primary seven to my teacher but nothing was done. She said to me that it was nothing to worry about and she would have a word with them. That never worked and the bullying continued.

When I started at high school I thought it might stop as I wouldn’t be near any the bullies from primary school. Well I was wholly wrong. It wasn’t easy to make friends and be myself. I still skipped school.

My guidance teacher started to take note of my absences from school and called me in to have a chat about it. So I explained it all to her and she was shocked to hear all this, at this point it was only the verbal abuse so she never done anything about it. But halfway through second year and into 3rd year was when the physical stuff started and that was when they finally took a look at the issue and spoke to the perpetrators of this physical violence. I never had any bruises or cuts and that’s why it didn’t look serious and maybe why the teacher never took note.

As my guidance teacher wasn’t doing anything about it, I went one step further and went to see my head teacher but was fobbed off and shown a copy of the schools anti bullying policy with its one line stating: “This school does not condone homophobic bullying”. All good being in writing but they must practice what they preach. Which they never, it was horrible.

No child should have to put up with going to school and not being able to be who they are. A school is supposed to be a safe place for kids to go but not when homophobia is still rife in our schools.

Here are my suggested plans for how to tackle homophobia in society and schools:

Firstly, we need to train teachers effectively on how to deal with homophobia and talk to pupils about it.

Secondly, the Scottish Government has to establish stricter and more forceful on local authorities to enforce these anti bullying strategies. The government has to make sure they inspect councils to see if they are being effective or not.

Thirdly, we need to educate kids and young people on the fact that LGBTI people are part of our society and should be accepted. The way to do this is have special speakers in classes or assemblies and by showing child and young people friendly LGBTI related TV shows on CBBC etc.

Finally, we need a wider stance on homophobia in society developed by the Scottish Government. With public campaigns explaining LGBTI people are part of society and how homophobia makes people feel.

Homophobia in the 21st century is just wrong and has a detrimental impact on people’s lives. It certainly had a bad effect on my schooling as it became unbearable for me to stay on after fourth year. I really hope something is done about this and soon.

About Lee Martin

Lee Martin
Lee is a political and LGBTI rights activist campaigning and writing about these issues. When not campaigning he likes reading LGBTI fiction novels, political books and biographies. Lee enjoy spending time with his boyfriend and his little dog Mylo. He also is fond of walking around the lovely setting of Loch Lomond.

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