Education & The Law

Despite its repeal in 2003, the legacy of Section 28 can still be felt.

Section 28 stated that a local authority “shall not promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

At the time it meant that many teachers felt they couldn’t talk about LGB people or issues. This meant that lesbian, gay and bisexual young people and their needs weren’t recognised by most schools, and their isolation increased.

Today that is not the case, but still two thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people report bullying and just 1 in 6 secondary school teachers believe their school is very active in promoting respect for LGB students.

We are still waiting for the coalition government’s new Education Bill to be published, but the Government’s white paper on education, The Importance of Teaching (2010), makes it clear that prejudice based bullying - like homophobic bullying - must be taken “especially seriously.”

“Schools should take incidents of prejudice-based bullying especially seriously. It is important that they educate children about the differences between different groups of people and create a culture of respect and understanding.”

It also proposes to give Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) more freedom to focus more strongly on behaviour and safety.

If parents have concerns about behaviour (like incidents of homophobic bullying), and feel that the school has not dealt with them properly, they can ask Ofsted to carry out an inspection.

The government is currently working to rationalise and simplify anti-bullying guidance to help head teachers tackle all forms of bullying, particularly homophobic and transphobic bullying.

It also aims to issue separate statutory guidance to extend head teachers powers to respond to pupils who bully other pupils, including homophobic and transphobic bullying outside the school premises.

Using your rights & creating change

One of The Lesbian & Gay Foundation’s key priorities is around education, and encouraging schools to meet the needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual students, staff and parents.

For more information about our work in schools contact us:
0845 3 30 30 30

August 2011