Tackling LGBT prejudice

Written by: Sam Hardwick | Published:

How should primary schools go about tackling issues relating to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and language? Stonewall’s Sam Hardwick advises and signposts some of their primary resources

In Stonewall’s School Report from 2017, 86 per cent of lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) young people surveyed had heard homophobic, biphobic or transphobic language being used at school. Hearing these words in a derogatory way can have an impact young people’s confidence, wellbeing, happiness and sense of self-worth.

Research shows that 22 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people aged 11 to 18 have tried to take their own life at some point – this rises to 45 per cent of trans young people.

Recognising and celebrating differences enables pupils to appreciate diversity and better understand the impact that prejudice-based language can have. In primary schools, this can mean celebrating all different kinds of families, including adoption, same-sex parents and single parents too.

In addition, this kind of work has been found to benefit all pupils, not just those that may later identify as LGBT. The Teachers Report 2014 found that boys who do well academically, or girls who are good at sports also experience homophobic bullying.

So, what can schools do to help? First, you can develop a whole-school approach to tackling bullying. Many schools are well on the way to achieving this with other areas of discrimination, so now it is time to include the use of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language as recognised instances of prejudice. Schools can also champion and celebrate diversity in all aspects of school life.

While there are many ways of achieving these outcomes in schools, and you will be the experts on what will work in your school, here are a few of our best practice tips:

  • Review your school policies to make sure that they explicitly mention homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and promote equality for LGBT pupils and staff. Our Getting Started Toolkit for primary schools is a great place to start.
  • In early years you may want to celebrate difference and tackle gender stereotypes. Our new resource on approaching this will identify first steps for your school (see further information).
  • Work with your pupils to create artwork reflecting the different families that make up your school community. There are lots of posters that can be downloaded or ordered from our education resources webpage to get you started.
  • Thread LGBT inclusion across your curriculum – read books about different families or with LGBT themes, use different families in your maths examples and provide opportunities for discussion in PSHE and citizenship lessons. We have a list of recommended books for primary schools.

The School Report 2014 found that more than eight in 10 teachers have had no specific training to tackle homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying. Less than a third of LGBT young people say that teachers intervene when they hear homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying taking place.

We encourage any schools who would like more information on tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and celebrating difference to sign up for one of our train the trainer courses. This one-day course will support your school to meet the Ofsted inspection framework and requirements in the Equality Act 2010.

We give one member of staff the skills, tools and confidence to return to your school to train the rest of their colleagues. Your school will also then become a Stonewall School Champion, with access to a range of benefits including hard copies of resources and support from Stonewall throughout the year.

What better way to kick-start an ethos of inclusion, tolerance and celebrating difference than by equipping your teachers to lead the way? 

  • Sam Hardwick is education programmes officer at Stonewall, a lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity. She has a background in research and primary schools and runs the Stonewall School Champions programme and training. Visit www.stonewall.org.uk/get-involved/education

Further information


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