for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality

Homophobic bullying

Homophobic bullying does happen in primary school and if it isn't tackled effectively, it can be very damaging for all children. However, preventing and challenging it doesn't have to be difficult.  

Who experiences homophobic bullying 

Stonewall's 2009 research, The Teachers' Report, revealed that three in five primary school teachers who are aware of homophobic bullying in their schools say boys who ‘behave or act like girls’ are bullied. Two in five say boys who are not into sports are bullied. One in five say boys who are academic experience homophobic bullying. One in six say girls who ‘behave or act like boys’ experience homophobic bullying and one in ten say girls who are into sports are bullied.

This leads to children feeling they can't be themselves and may lead to lower aspirations and attainment out of fear of being bullied. If not challenged, children will grow up to think that this poor behaviour is tolerated and they therefore won't be prepared for life in our diverse society.

What homophobic bullying looks like

Homophobic bullying is prevalent in primary schools. One in five primary school teachers say children experience homophobic verbal abuse in their schools.

Three quarters of primary school teachers hear ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ in school. Two in five primary school teachers hear children making homophobic remarks such as ‘poof’, ‘dyke’, ‘queer’ and ‘faggot’.

Three in ten primary school teachers have heard homophobic language or negative remarks about gay people from other school staff.

Read more about  of homophobic bullying amongst pupils in The Teachers' Report and about in Different Families.

Tackling homophobic language and bullying 

Many primary school teachers who have not always intervened in instances of homophobic language report that this is because they did not believe the pupils were being homophobic or that the homophobic language they heard was ‘just harmless banter’.

More than nine in ten teachers and non-teaching staff at secondary and primary schools (94 per cent) have not received any specific training on how to tackle homophobic bullying. However, teachers know not to tolerate racist language and know how to challenge children who use abusive terms. Tackling homophobic language and bullying doesn't have to be more difficult and The Teachers' Report offers some good practice examples of primary school teachers effectively tackling homophobic bullying. Many teachers are also even more proactive and prevent it by talking about different families in class.

Stonewall has also published an Education Guide on Challenging homophobic language and was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to write guidance on preventing and tackling homophobic bullying.  


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