Words Can Hurt

Publish Date: 08/11/2011

Anti-Bullying Week takes place from November 14th - 18th and this year's theme is Words Can Hurt. We take a look at two projects challenging the issue of homophobic bullying in schools and promoting understanding across communities.

Homophobia is still endemic in UK schools, and only last week newspapers reported on a teacher from Essex who told one of their students to “act less gay” to avoid being bullied.

This comment, along with the EHRC research highlighting that two thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people report being bullied and 17% report receiving death threats, stresses the importance of projects going into schools to support lesbian, gay and bisexual young people and challenge attitudes and stereotypes towards gay and bisexual people.

Exceeding Expectations is an award winning anti-homophobic bullying initiative that tackles the issue of homophobic bullying in Manchester High Schools, and language has always been at its very core, reinforcing this year’s Words Can Hurt theme.

The Exceeding Expectations play OUTLOUD is based on the real words and experiences of young people in Manchester, many of whom shared the words that hurt them with the play’s director Adam Zane.

Zane comments: “I interviewed young lesbian, gay, bisexual and straight people across Manchester and their experiences formed the themes of the play. One of the recurring themes is the negative use of the word gay and other homophobic language, and the damage and the hurt that it causes young people.”

The Exceeding Expectations project which also supports schools through staff training, resources, workshops and research will be in Manchester Secondary Schools for two weeks from the beginning of Anti-Bullying Week on November 14th.

Annie Emery, Project Manager from the Lesbian & Gay Foundation said: “One of the aims of Exceeding Expectations is to encourage young people to stop and think about what they are saying, why they are saying it and the damage name calling can do. It’s really important that young people speak out for each other and themselves, and report bullying.”

To find out more about Exceeding Expectations visit www.exceedingexpectations.org.uk

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation launched our Safer Schools Packs to coincide with this year’s LGBT History Month, and we aim to get as many packs as possible into UK schools to help schools challenge homophobic bullying, support young people and promote understanding.

The packs include a DVD of Roger Crouch talking about the death of his 15 year old son Dominic, who took his own life after rumours spread at school that he was gay.

Roger highlights the damage words can do and urges young people to stop and think, and report bullying.

“Think about the consequences because what might seem like a joke or a bit of a laugh could have consequences that you never imagined.”

“What I'd say to young people is really what I've been saying since Dominic's funeral, you should talk to someone about it; an adult, a friend, you should raise it in the school and report it.”

Roger highlights that more needs to be done in schools in “promoting positive cultures and zero tolerance approaches to bullying whatever form it takes”.

You can help this happen by donating to a Safer Schools Pack – whether it be for your local school, your kids schools, or your old school.

As part of the campaign, the LGF keep up to date with schools to see what difference your donations and the packs are making. You can donate now at www.lgf.org.uk/enough

Joe Paterson, 16, used the Safer School Pack PowerPoint in his school assembly. “After I presented the assembly to the school year my boyfriend is in, one of the boys approached my boyfriend and apologised for anything he may have said, and wished my boyfriend and I all the best. That really made me realise that the message was getting through to everyone, and that people were learning.”

Let us know what you are doing for Anti-Bullying Week by leaving a comment in the box below.