for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality

FIT: the first ever film for schools to tackle homophobia

Stonewall Scotland is to send every secondary school in the country a DVD designed to tackle homophobic bullying.

FIT is the first feature film of its kind, described by one critic as “a gritty take on E4’s Glee”. The intelligent, powerful and entertaining film uses hip-hop, humour, and lively writing similar to Channel 4’s Skins to communicate with pupils in a way that makes it easy for them to engage with the issues raised.

Divided into seven 15 minute chapters FIT explores issues about homophobic bullying and gender stereotyping and the impacts this can have on the health, well-being and learning for those involved or witness to it on a daily basis.

FIT will be launched in Scotland at an Edinburgh premiere for pupils, teachers and others involved in education on March 9th.

And the DVDs will start arriving at schools on Wednesday, March 10th.

The film has been partly funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland and the Scottish Government, and Learning Teaching Scotland are assisting with distribution.

The interactive DVD has been created to tackle homophobic bullying and encourage pupils to challenge their widespread use of the word ‘gay’ to mean anything rubbish or inadequate.

The DVD will offer the support teachers need to tackle homophobic bullying in the classroom.

In Stonewall’s 2009 research, The Teacher’s Report, nine out of ten secondary school teachers said children and young people currently experience homophobic bullying, name calling or harassment in their schools – and yet the same proportion had never received any specific training on how to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying.

FIT is an adaptation of Stonewall’s highly successful play for schools, which was seen on tour at eight schools in Scotland in 2007-2008. The response to the play showed us that young people welcomed the opportunity to discuss discrimination, relationships and sexual orientation and to challenge each other’s views – and that attending teachers wanted to talk about these issues in the classroom, but a lack of resources and materials made this impossible.

Using this film could help Scottish schools meet a wide range of experiences and outcomes in the third, fourth and senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence and sits well with the Health and Wellbeing curriculum area.

After seeing the play FIT one S3 student said: “It was amazing how people’s attitudes changed just like that after the show – they were criticising other people who’d had homophobic attitudes.”

An Edinburgh depute head said: “FIT was an outstanding presentation which judged its audience extremely well. It raised the profile of homophobic behaviour in both a sensitive but challenging way. It was very well received by our target group of pupils and certainly appeared to succeed in getting its message across.”

Carl Watt, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “Too many young people have told us they experience homophobic bullying in the classroom and too many teachers have told us they haven’t had the training they need to tackle it.

“Two thirds of Scottish lesbian, gay and bisexual young people are bullied in school, and 98% of all children hear the phrases “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay” at school.

“This film is here to support teachers in bringing about much needed change in our schools and helping them create the safe learning environment that is every child’s right.”

Morag Alexander, Scotland Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “10 years ago the infamous Section 28 meant many of our teachers felt unable to address homophobic bulling and harassment in Scottish schools. It was the elephant in the classroom. 10 days ago a lack of confidence, training and classroom materials meant exactly the same thing. Today that changes, now there is no excuse for the bullying and harassment that we know shames our school playgrounds to go on unaddressed.”

Writer / director of FIT Rikki Beadle-Blair said: ‘When on tour I would ask the kids how many people thought homosexuality was wrong.  In every single school the vast majority, about 80%, would put their hands up. But kids would come up after the performance and say quite openly “I walked into this room homophobic and will leave it a changed person.”’

For more info visit www.stonewallscotland.org.uk/FIT


Notes
1. Stonewall Scotland campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.
2. As part of our Education for All programme to accompany FIT Stonewall Scotland will work with local authority education departments and groups of schools to deliver training for teachers on building the skills and confidence to deal with homophobic bullying and to explore creative ways of tackling the issues in the classroom.
3. Although Section 28 (often referred to as Section 2A in Scotland) was repealed in 2001, its legacy continues as many teachers still do not feel confident tackling homophobia in the classrooms.


FIT DVD

Well done Stonewall Scotland for coming up with a much needed resource in schools. I'm a Scot living in Margate, Kent so it is always amazing to hear about innovative work being done back home. I work in sexual health promotion (LGBT) and wondered how i can get a copy of FIT? Thanks a lot, Fiona

fiona Thomson, 18 March 2010


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