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.
Shockingly, despite almost 15 years having passed since the repeal of Section 28 in Scotland, a staggering 75 per cent of primary and 44 per cent of secondary school staff say they either aren’t allowed to, or aren’t sure if they are allowed to teach about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in their school.
The polling also revealed that a third of primary school staff in Scotland (32 per cent) and a third of secondary school staff (31 per cent) have heard homophobic language or negative remarks about lesbian, gay and bisexual people from other school staff.
The Teachers’ Report also reveals that an overwhelming majority of teachers across both secondary and primary schools believe school staff have a duty to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying.
Stonewall Scotland Director Colin Macfarlane told KaleidoScot: ‘Teachers are the most powerful tool that we have in the fight to tackle homophobic bullying. Sadly, our new research shows that 15 years since the repeal of Section 28 in Scotland, it still casts a shadow over our schools.
“It is troubling that so many teachers report that they have never received any specific training on how to tackle homophobic bullying. That’s why this year Stonewall Scotland launched a Train the Trainer programme which means we can work directly with teachers across Scotland.
“However, the responsibility cannot be ours alone. The Scottish Government, local authorities, schools and other agencies must now make it a priority that every single teacher is trained to tackle all types of bullying and abuse in our schools.”
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.
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.”