All maintained schools have to have an anti-bullying policy. Stonewall's research The School Report showed that where young people are told that homophobic bullying is wrong fewer pupils say they are affected by it. It is therefore important that homophobic bullying is specifically mentioned in the policy and that staff and young people are aware of that.
It is important that the senior leadership team of a school understands why homophobic bullying and language should be tackled and prevented. Speaking to the head and senior leadership team directly make sure they are aware of parents' concerns and of young people's needs. You could start by adapting and sending them our model letter for primary schools or secondary schools.
Stonewall is also able to work directly with individual primary and secondary schools through the School Champions Programme, which provides tailored support and guidance to schools in preventing and tackling homophobic bullying and celebrating difference. You can download a leaflet about the programme to send to your child's school here.
Schools have the duty to challenge all forms of bullying including homophobic bullying. Parents and carers can help schools and teachers by sign-posting them to useful resources including our teacher training DVDs, practical education guides, and feature-length educational film FIT, which was sent to every maintained secondary school in Britain. Parents and carers might want to find out whether it has been shown in their child's school.
If you feel a school does not take their duty to tackle homophobic bullying seriously or doesn't support your child, you first want to contact your child's tutor and head of year in secondary school. In primary school the class teacher would be your first point of call. You might want to have a look at the legislation and take some of Stonewall's resources to underline your argument.
If you are not satisfied with their response, ask about the complaints procedure and take it to the next level. This is usually the governing body.
If the outcome is still not satisfactory, you can contact the local authority. Stonewall works with a number of local authorities through the Education Champions programme so you might want to check whether yours is a member. In the case of a independent school you can contact the Independent Schools Council for more information.
If you think your school's governing body or your local authority is acting 'unreasonably' you can write to the Secretary of State for Education. Complaints to the Secretary of State are handled by the government’s Department for Education.
This should be a last resort, and you should highlight in your communication the steps you have already taken to resolve the problem.
For more information you can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Stonewall information line on 08000 50 20 20.