“My son’s journey through the education system: at the age of three, a rather sweet, ever smiling little boy, entered a world that for years would result in him experiencing rejection from many of his peers, and the reason was ignorance."
"Phillip experienced his first bullying at nursery school with taunts of "girl" and physical violence. The hurt, confusion and tears he shed were simply heartbreaking. I might add that Phillip was always taller by a year than his actual age; hence "girl" could only have been due to his gentleness. Phillip went onto primary school, where he still had to endure taunts of "girl" and some violent attacks. Phillip recalls this time as when he realised how nasty people could be. Phillip remained gentle and kind, so as a mother the pain he suffered was unbearable. By late juniors I knew my son was different, I was already thinking much about his sexuality."
"Within weeks of starting secondary school the homophobic remarks began with taunts of "queer” and “girl". Phillip suffered a physical attack resulting in a black eye. This attack resulted in Phillip too receiving a detention, and appallingly, the teacher from the class it happened in told Phillip the incident was “the highlight” of his day! Year 8 Phillip recalls as awful, the "gay" and "queer" taunts became more frequent, people regularly stole his belongings. I made sure he knew he could walk out if he couldn’t cope. During this year he was punched in the eye for not touching a picture of a vagina. As a parent I spent every day scared for his welfare. After complaints to the school I informed them any more physical attacks would be reported to the police."
"By year 9 he’d formed some good friendships that lightened his life, giving him much-needed support. Fortunately some of his friends were also gay. These friends supported him through the gay taunts. This continued until the end of year 10, during one of many verbal attacks from a group of boys, they asked "Are you f***ing queer"? Phillip replied "YES". They were shocked and said "really?" and "you are alright really". Along with smoking he became everyone's favourite gay; his peer group finally left him alone."
"During all this time I wrote letters regarding my child’s welfare to the school. They assured me they would try to help, but at no time was the homophobic intimidation challenged. Against all odds Phillip worked very hard and attained high grade GCSEs in eight subjects, he now attends college."
"Since leaving school Phillip has suffered three assaults, each time by gangs of lads out gay-bashing. Each attack resulted in hospital treatment, including stitches to repair his mouth."
"My belief is in the education of young people and adults. Homophobia must be treated as the crime it is. It is only when homophobia becomes publicly unacceptable that our children can be safe and fulfil their potential. School is where they spend much of their waking day, and where teachers can and MUST play their part. For all our children the education system must sit up and take notice! There is a lot of work to be done, together we can and must achieve it."