It is important to intervene when pupils make homophobic remarks, even if the intent is not deliberately homophobic. This helps pupils to understand the implications of what they are saying.
- A student used the word gay in a negative way, and we got into a conversation about inappropriate use of language, and how using it like that was offensive to people who were gay. I compared it to racism, and he understood exactly what I was getting at.
Hailey, teacher, secondary school (West Midlands)
- The word faggot was used. So I asked if they would call someone a “Paki” or “black git” to try and get them to see that it is the same.
Terry, teacher, secondary school (North West)
- I intervened when a student called the work we were doing “gay”. I pointed out that gay was not a term of abuse.
Emma, teacher, secondary school (South East)
- I’m very directly challenging of uses of anti-gay language in my classroom. Whenever a pupil calls another pupil gay, I congratulate them for being supportive of their friend’s lifestyle choices. When they demur, I ask them what they did mean by the phrase; they usually look suitably embarrassed, knowing at some level that they oughtn’t to use such language. They will typically then say something like “I meant he was an idiot”. I will then ask them if they believe that homosexuals are idiots. They, of course, will say no, so then I conclude with the admonition that they ought not to use the two words interchangeably as it only makes them look ignorant.
Lauren, teacher, faith secondary school (South East)
- I work with deaf students, some of whom were using the “gay sign” as general winding-up of peers. It was clear they were unaware of exactly what they were signing. I explained why it was offensive, and why it was against our policies.
Joe, teacher, secondary school (North West)
- If pupils express misunderstanding about what it means to be gay, or show an anti-gay attitude, I confront the issue directly with the whole class so that it removes any mystery or secrecy.
Ailsa, teacher, faith secondary school (London)
- In a PSHE lesson where a pupil expressed his distaste towards the gay community, I said that he's entitled to his own opinion but suggested that he needed to widen his perspective, and compared this with other narrow-minded views within society, with examples of racism and sexism.
Holly, teacher, secondary school (London)
- We stopped a mathematics lesson for a full class discussion / lecture on the issue of both the name calling and what the issues were with actually being lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Neil, teacher, secondary school (Scotland)
- In a small group sex education lesson a pupil asked if gay people had sex. I replied that they did. The 18 year old pupil responded with “urggh, that's gross”. I explained that it was no more gross than a heterosexual couple having sex and that as long as it was consensual, both types of sexual relationships were about showing love for another person and were therefore perfectly natural and not gross.
Leah, teacher, secondary school (Yorkshire & the Humber)
- We spoke about how homophobia was the same as racial abuse and is prejudice.
Sam, teacher, secondary school (London)
- I talked to the kids when they called one of the boys gay because he was a dancer. They realised how talented he was and began to look up to him.
Alison, teacher, secondary school (West Midlands)
Read more in The Teachers' Report.