Advice for professionals

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Homophobic bullying

Any hostile or offensive action against lesbians, gay males, bisexual or transgender people, or those perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender can be classed as homophobic bullying.

These actions might include:

  • Verbal, physical, or emotional (social exclusion) harassment, insulting or degrading comments, name calling, gestures, taunts, insults or 'jokes'
  • Offensive graffiti
  • Humiliating, excluding, tormenting, ridiculing or threatening refusing to work or co-operate with others because of their sexual orientation or identity.

Children and young people's legal rights

In July 2000, the DFES issued the new statutory guidelines in Sex and Relationship Education Guidance, which includes the requirement that schools must provide for the needs of young gay men and lesbians.

Section 1.30 states:

'It is up to schools to make sure that the needs of all pupils are met in their programmes. Young people, whatever their developing sexuality, need to feel that sex and relationship education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs.'

Section 1.32 states:

'Schools need to be able to deal with homophobic bullying. Guidance issued by the Department (Social Inclusion: Pupil Support Curricular 10/99) dealt with the unacceptability of and emotional distress and harm caused by bullying in whatever form - be it racial, as a result of a pupil's appearance, related to sexual orientation or for any other reason.'

More guidance is available in the DfES publication Stand up for us: Challenging homophobia in schools.

If you would like more information on homophobic bullying or the support available for the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender community, please contact the following specialist organisations: