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Tackling homophobic bullying in Cardiff schools

January 20, 2009 11:36 AM

The Liberal Democrat Leader of Cardiff Council, Rodney Berman, has welcomed the success of a pilot programme aimed at challenging and raising awareness of homophobic and transphobic bullying in Cardiff schools.

The Safe Space programme was created by the LGBT Excellence Centre Wales and helps schools set up systems for tackling the problems they might encounter in dealing with sexual orientation and gender identity issues. The programme was sponsored by Cardiff Council and involved performances by international hip hop artist Qboy. Presentation materials were developed in collaboration with the Council's Schools and Lifelong Learning service.

As a result of the pilot carried out in Cardiff, and the promotional work carried out by the LGBT Excellence Centre Wales, initial expressions of interest to run similar programmes have now been received from other Welsh local authorities. Safe Space was delivered to 460 pupils in total at three Cardiff high schools. Three performances were delivered to all pupils in Year 9 at each school. These pupils have the advantage of being amongst the first cluster of pupils who have received this pioneering workshop in Wales, leaving them and the whole school better equipped to understand and tackle homophobia and homophobic bullying.

Council Leader Cllr Rodney Berman said, "I am delighted that Cardiff took part in this Safe Space programme and am grateful to the LGBT Excellence Centre Wales for helping us take forward this pioneering work. I am pleased it was so well received by the schools which took part and that other local authorities in Wales are now considering using it as well. It is clear that the rapper QBoy's experiences and ability to communicate really struck a chord with pupils.

"Addressing bullying of any kind in our schools is vitally important, but in the case of homophobic bullying there is much to be done in ensuring people are aware of all the issues and able to understand what some of our young people may be dealing with.

"Research has shown that young people who experience homophobic bullying are more likely to leave school at 16 even if they are keen to continue their studies. Also, at its very worst, homophobic bullying can undoubtedly be a contributory factor to teenage suicides. This is not therefore an issue we can choose to ignore.

"Some young people may find themselves very isolated in dealing with homophobic bullying and may feel uncomfortable talking to anyone about what they are experiencing, including their own families. Anything that can help to promote better understanding of this issue must therefore be welcomed."

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