Anti Bullying Week 14 – 18 Nov 2011.

Article first published as Anti-bullying Week 2011 – 14-18 November. on

Anti-bullying Week 2011  –  14-18 November.    
Jason Shaw
The UK’s anti-bullying week is about to commence,  from 14th to 18th Novemeber there will be special focus on verbal bullying,  how words can indeed hurt and in some cases kill.  Young people at the ABA Youth Summit in 2010 raised concerns about the negative use of language in schools, playgrounds, sports fields and the wider community.  You know, things like ‘you’re so gay’ or ‘that’s so gay’ in an ultimately negative way.  Being called ‘faggot’ bitch’ ‘dyke’ ‘slag’ and so on causes a great deal of hurt, but how common is it?
undefinedShockingly frighteningly common, homophobic bullying is almost epidemic in Britain’s schools,  almost two thirds of young lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have experienced direct bullying.  A staggering seventy five  per cent of young gay people attending faith schools have experienced homophobic bullying.   Ninety eight per cent of young gay people hear the phrases “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay” in school, ninety seven per cent of pupils hear other insulting homophobic emarks, such as “poof”, “dyke”, “rug-muncher”, “queer” and “bender”.

Over half of lesbian and gay pupils in UK schools don’t feel able to be themselves and some thirty five per cent of gay pupils do not feel safe or accepted at school.  What’s increasingly worrying is that less than a quarter, just twenty three per cent of young gay people have been told that homophobic bullying is wrong in their school. 
“Someone found out about my sexuality and spread it round school. Everyone knows and looks at me and threatens me and no one helps. They push me in corridors and teachers have seen but they act as if they haven’t seen anything. People say ‘errrgh don’t touch the lezzy/dyke/minger/muff muncher/beanflicker’and I’m upset.”  Sarah, 14.
“I get called names all the time at school, especially poof and faggot. My stuff is always being ripped up or drawn on or stolen.”  Alan, 13.
I have experienced bullying such as being verbally assaulted frequently, had scissors thrown at me, occasionally punched, sometimes directly in front of teachers.”  Kevin, 16.


These are just three of the statements made by lesbian and gay youth to the UK’s equality campaigning charity Stonewall and their reports make ghastly reading,  for example in 2006 eight per cent of gay pupils has been threatened with a weapon and one in six have received death threats.  


Yet isn’t school supposed to be a place of learning, a safe place free from the verbal and physical violence?  Shouldn’t those in charge encourage a safe environment for all students?  You’d think that would be the case,  however Stonewall’s research tells a different story – over half said they have heard homophobic remarks, not from other students but from teachers or other school staff. Thirty per cent of lesbian and gay pupils report that adults have been responsible for incidents of homophobic bullying in their schools.
“The teacher was laughing at the fact that there are homosexual people and all the other pupils were taking the mick and my twitch started up and I had to leave.”  Sue, 14.
“In RE (religious education) the teacher avoided the question as best she could, but spoke to me after (assuming from my opinion and some of class members comments that I was gay) about good and bad life choices, and that I shouldn’t make a decision now that I should resist going along with things that are bad life choices and will ‘damage’ me.” May, 16.
“The teachers join in on the joke.”  Catherine, 13.
Nine in ten teachers and non-teaching staff at UK secondary and primary schools have never received any specific training on how to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying.  More than a quarter of secondary school staff said they would not feel confident in supporting a pupil who decided to come out to them as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Two in five would not feel confident in providing pupils with information, advice and guidance on lesbian and gay issues.
It is against this backdrop of hate, bullying and ignorant discrimination that
Stonewall set up their ‘School Champions’ programme, to help schools tackle homophobic bullying and language head on. Creating a safe and welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone has the freedom to be themselves.

Bullying is not just isolated to school, it can take place anywhere and everywhere and we all have a duty to stamp it out.  Just a few moments thought can save a lifetime of hurt and sorrow and make our society a much better place.   No matter how idealistic you may find that last statement, the truth is that with bullying even the smallest and simplest changes to behaviour and language can have a huge impact on others.
Think about the language you use, for example, using the word ‘gay’ to describe things that are negative or inferior or lame  as in phrases like ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘ you’re so gay’ can be incredibly hurtful, dismissive, disrespectful and as much as  verbal bullying as using other insulting homophobic words like ‘fag’ ‘queer’ ‘dyke’ and so on.    ‘Stop and think – words can hurt’
2011 BRIEFING PACK NOW AVAILABLE! ABA’s Anti-Bullying Week Briefing Pack reflecting this year’s theme can be downloaded free of charge. It includes easy to use information and practical resources for school leaders and teachers, school governors, FE colleges and youth workers. It also contains advice for parents and carers and a cut –out –and keep top tips z-fold for children and young people. Anti-Bullying Week merchandise is also available from the ABA Shop including stickers, posters and pencils and a special offer pack for primary schools.
Stonewall Anti-Bullying Week competitionSpread the word about equality this coming anti-bullying week, Stonewall are running a little competition – their ‘Some people are gay. Get over it!’ t-shirts are the perfect anti-bullying fashion statement. Simply take a picture of yourself wearing a t-shirt or holding a bag/mug/poster in an inventive location and send your pics to Get your Stonewall goodies today.

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© 2011 Copyright Jason Shaw

2 responses

  1. […] Anti Bullying Week 14 – 18 Nov 2011. ( Rate this: Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. […] articlesCyberbullying: ignoring it on Google and Facebook is not the answer ( Bullying Week 14 – 18 Nov 2011. ( use anonymity provided by Facebook and social networking sites to […]

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