By Deborah Lawson, Assistant General Secretary, Community Union (Voice Section)
BBC News reports that “government-backed projects tackling bullying of LGBT students in England's schools have had their funding pulled. The decision came despite an earlier pledge to continue investing in school programmes targeting homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.”
“The government acknowledges the serious impact anti-LGBT bullying can have on educational attainment, absence levels, emotional wellbeing and mental health,” but the BBC has learned that the government “quietly ended its funding of LGBT anti-bullying initiatives last March”.
A provider of “well-received” LGBT inclusion workshops “who wanted to remain anonymous as they feared that speaking out would jeopardise any future possible funding", commented that schools and programme providers had been expecting a further extension. According to the report, her organisation was "waiting for another funding announcement at the beginning of November, inviting new applications for grants".
"What message does this send to young people? This government is rolling back on their initial commitment to LGBT rights."
Although it seems the funding was time-limited, the decision to end it, and to do so “quietly” without announcing any replacement scheme, is shameful.
This should be a priority. As the BBC reports,
“ministers admit that those identifying as LGBT face a higher risk of bullying which can cause long-term harm”.
Teachers and support staff need support and resources to tackle LGBT+ bullying.
It is important that children learn about negative stereotypes, and how LGBT+ people can feel marginalised because of the attitudes and behaviour of others.
Do let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.