The media is full of ‘coming out’ stories, and the idea of being the person you want to be has become an anthem for our generation. But a lot of issues remain unsolved…
The days of prohibiting love and gender in all forms are not over yet. Section 28 of The Local Government Act 1988, prohibited “local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality or gay “pretended family relationships”” , including educational projects for children.
The Act was voted out in 2003, however, its dramatic footprint remains – even after 15 years.
“This legislation ushered in a dark era for LGBT young people at school and allowed bullying to flourish as teachers were effectively banned from discussing LGBT issues and relationships,” says Stonewall Media Officer Rosalie Spawls.
So how much has changed? Not a lot, really. LGBT children are still struggling with bullying in schools, which, to be fair, not even all adults can handle. According to data published by Stonewall, 45% of LGBT children in Britain get bullied at school for their sexuality or gender identity. This includes 64% who identify as trans.
While the figures seem high, they have actually fallen in the last 10 years. The same data source shows that back in 2012, LGBT bullying rates in schools were at 55%, compared to more than 60 % in 2007.
Sadly, this change is happening too slowly. According to The Trevor Project, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth seriously consider suicide almost three times more often than their heterosexual peers. In addition, LGB teens attempt self-harm more often as well.
One of the most recent cases is the one of Chance Houle, who has commited suicide on March 31st 2018 as The Daily Mail reports. Chance, 12, was a transgender boy, who has been experiencing ‘intense bullying at school’ for at least six months before taking his own life. As his cousin says, one of the reasons that contributed to bullying was Chance’s coming out as trans earlier in the year.
Kimberly Dixon, a 30-year-old trans woman says that back in her schools days there were close to none discussions on LGBT topics. She says that people need to teach children to be more polite and attentive towards their LGBT peers.
“People often say something about LGBT issues and then don’t listen to LGBT people. People just need to listen to people that are part of the group, and teach others the same.”
But progress is being made. The academic year of 2017-2018 has started with a £3 million initiative introduced by the Government Equalities Office which was joined by over a 1000 schools. According to a press release published in September, the programmes are aimed at stamping out “homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying in the classroom” as well as ensuring that the participating schools offer effective protection measures for all LGBT pupils.
According to Spawls, providing schools with “the tools they need to tackle bullying and deliver an LGBT-inclusive curriculum” is a “crucial part” of tackling challenges related to LGBT hate crime.
“Through our education programmes, including Train the Trainer, Stonewall works alongside schools, local authorities and Governments across Britain to help schools create inclusive learning environments and support all young people to reach their full potential.”