Campaign to combat homophobic bullying in county schools

Leader of the Labour group on Northamptonshire County Council, Cllr John McGhee
Leader of the Labour group on Northamptonshire County Council, Cllr John McGhee

Labour councillors on Northamptonshire County Council have joined a scheme to provide support, guidance and professional advice to prevent and tackle homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools.

The county council has been working with Stonewall who have provided the programme to local authorities across the UK for two years.

The work being done to prevent and tackle homophobic bullying by celebrating differences in schools, and supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in the local community, has been previously supported by Liberal Democrat Cllr Richard Giddings.

Since joining the scheme, Stonewall has distributed a variety of resources to all of the primary and secondary schools in the county, as well as supporting The Out There LGBTQ Youth Group, run by Lowdown, a Northampton-based charity providing free and confidential counselling, information and support services for 12 to 25-year-olds.

There are plans to run a conference this year in order to train teachers in the county and raise awareness of tackling homophobia in schools. This is all the more relevant now that Ofsted inspections specifically focus on what schools are doing to prevent and tackle homophobic bullying.

Cllr Danielle Stone, Labour’s shadow spokeswoman for education, said: “Nine in ten secondary and two in five primary school teachers say young people, regardless of their sexual orientation, experience homophobic bullying, name calling or harassment. This is totally unacceptable and why Labour has decided to join Stonewall’s scheme.

Cllr John McGhee, Labour leader at County Hall, said: “We know that homophobic bullying impacts on pupils’ attendance, attainment and future prospects.

“Half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people who have experienced homophobic bullying have skipped school at some point because of it.

“We believe our affiliation with Stonewall’s Education Champions programme is a very clear way of showing that we are committed to taking a stand against homophobia in Northamptonshire.”