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Liberal Democrats launch campaign against homophobic bullying

May 10, 2006 12:57 PM

The Liberal Democrats have launched a parliamentary campaign against homophobic bullying. On Wednesday 9th May Stephen Williams MP has organised the first ever session of the Education Select Committee to discuss bullying. As part of the wider discussion they will hear evidence specifically on the issue of homophobic bullying. Also on Wednesday, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary, Sarah Teather MP is introducing an amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill to impose a statutory duty on schools to implement policies to tackle homophobic bullying.

Commenting, Sarah Teather MP said: "Homophobic bullying is an issue for the whole school, not just for a victimised minority. This is not a matter of 'political correctness' but about pupil behaviour and the right of parents to feel confident that their child will be safe in school.

"Improving the situation in schools is down to effective school leadership and getting the entire school community to accept that all pupils should be treated with respect.

"No-one would pretend that we have won the battle with racism in school. However it is normal in the vast majority of schools for every pupil to understand that racism is regarded as unacceptable. We need to urgently work towards a situation where homophobia and homophobic bullying of all kinds are regarded as equally unacceptable."

Stephen Williams MP added: "I have my own painful memories of homophobic abuse at my time in school and it's a subject that has been ignored for too long, even in other debates on bullying. Thousands of pupils are suffering unnecessarily because of the ignorance or indifference of school leaders.

"It is a huge step forward when every pupil is aware of where their school stands on the issue of homophobic bullying. Publicly agreed school policies provide a vital point of reference for gay and lesbian pupils and staff who experience bullying at school."