Stonewall's 2014 research, The Teachers' Report, revealed that only one in five secondary school teachers and one in six primary school teachers in England and Wales say their school governors demonstrate a clear leadership role when it comes to tackling homophobic bullying.
Under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 school governors have a duty to promote the wellbeing of all children and young people in their care. This includes any child or young person who experiences homophobic bullying. Ofsted inspectors may also ask governors about homophobic bullying in their schools.
To make sure schools fulfill their responsibility to prevent and tackle homophobic bullying and to support lesbian, gay and bisexual young people, school governors need information and training to help them understand the role they play.
We’re immensely proud of the progress that’s been made in tackling homophobic bullying in schools. The School Report showed that although we’ve still got a lot of work to do, we’re moving in the right direction, with the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils who are bullied falling from 65 per cent to 55 per cent. But hard as we might try, we know that it isn’t possible to oversee the efforts of every school in the country - that’s where you come in.
One of the easiest ways to lead change at the school level is to become a school governor. Becoming a governor means that you have oversight of schools policies and practice and the head teacher is accountable to you. This means that as a governor you’re in the perfect position to influence your local school to do more to tackle homophobic bullying.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people have traditionally been underrepresented on school governing bodies. Schools haven’t always been welcoming to gay people and their families, and we know from YouGov polling in Gay in Britain that seven in ten gay people expect to face barriers because of their sexual orientation to becoming a school governor. Thankfully, the vast majority of governing bodies are now actively looking to become more diverse and recognise the importance of reflecting their pupil’s local community.
You don’t have to be a parent to be a school governor and on average it only takes 10-15 hours a month, for which your employer has to give you time off. If you’re interested, you can find out more about how to apply on the Governors for Schools website www.sgoss.org.uk and play your part in eradicating homophobic bullying.