Funding aimed at reducing homophobic bullying of LGBT+ students in England has been apparently pulled by the Government, as new research shows that just 27% of students think that their school is a safe space for classmates to be themselves.
A report by the BBC has discovered that funding for programmes targetting homophobic and transphobic bullying in English schools has ended, with no signs of renewal by the Conservative government.
The funding which added up to around £4 million, was specifically set aside to help with anti-LGBT+ bullying, but according to the government, the funding was always due to end in March 2020. The programme began back in 2014, under one of the most progressive Conservative governments when it came to LGBT+ rights, under the leadership of David Cameron.
According to the BBC, funding was “quietly” pulled in March, while the world’s attention was focused on the Coronavirus pandemic and schools began to close across the UK.
The funding has not been reinstated.
The Government Equalities Office said to the BBC “The anti-bullying grant fund, which provided 2,250 schools across the country with materials and training, was always due to end in March 2020.”
Majority of students do not believe that it’s safe to come out as LGBT+
New research by the Diversity Role Models (DRM), which received funding between January 2019 and March 2020 found that just 27% of students reported that they thought their school would be a safe environment for classmates to come out as gay, lesbian, bi or transgender.
DRM undertook a survey of nearly 12,000 students, parents and governors of secondary and primary schools.
It found that homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language was reported as common by 42% of year five and six primary school students and by 54% of secondary school students.
Seventy-one per cent of teachers say that they have witnessed homophobic bullying and was it was found to be much more common than bullying related to other characteristics such as religion.
The survey also showed that the levels of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying decreased when schools educated their pupils about LGBT+ identities and relationships, however as it stands only 20 per cent of secondary school students report learning about LGBT+ identities.
Chief executive of Diversity Role Models, Adam McCann comments, “These findings show how dangerous any further delays to LGBT+ inclusive RSE will be for students. Our report shows a clear correlation between learning about LGBT+ identities and lower levels of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language and bullying.”
“Staff, parents and carers and governors underestimate the level of discrimination in schools compared to students. It is no exaggeration to talk about the safety of these students. Action must be taken immediately to create safer, more inclusive learning environments. Bullying has an undisputed negative impact on attendance, attainment, life chances and mental health.”
THEGAYUK understands that as it stands there has been no renewal of any of the projects.