Guidelines for schools on gay bullying

 

NEW GUIDELINES for school principals on measures to counter homophobic bullying and to include lesbian, gay and bisexual students in school policies were launched yesterday

Research in Ireland has shown that young students who are or who are perceived to be lesbian or gay experience very significant levels of homophobic abuse in schools.

In launching the new guidelines, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said, “The 21st century school should be one that is safe and supportive of all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people”.

He continued, “I am considering the establishment of a working group comprising all the relevant sections of my department, along with the NGOs involved in this area and the education partners, to help draft a road map towards the elimination of homophobic bullying from our schools.’’

Sandra Irwin-Gowran, director of education policy at the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen) said the launch marked the first occasion a Minister for Education has addressed the issue of supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in schools. “It sends out a strong signal of the need to make schools safe and supportive environments for young LGBT students.”

Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), who jointly developed the guidelines with Glen and the Department of Education and Skills said: “Respect and tolerance must be at the heart of every school. NAPD believes strongly that the school leader sets the tone and must preside over a school climate which recognises and encourages tolerance and diversity and is both a happy and inclusive environment where students can thrive.”

Senator Averil Power, Fianna Fáil Seanad spokesperson on education and skills, welcomed the new guidelines.

“Every young person should feel safe and supported at school. However, the reality is that homophobic bullying is causing many lesbian, gay and bisexual students to feel threatened and undermining their ability to learn.”