Primary schoolchildren are being taught that using words like ‘gay’ or ‘queer’ when name calling is just as bad as racism as part of an initiative to challenge homophobic bullying.
Fakenham Junior School and Lynn’s Fairstead Community Primary are two of ten Norfolk schools to be awarded education champion status by equalities charity Stonewall for leading the way in tackling homophobia.
The schools have been working with the charity to crack down on homophobic language and promote inclusion, and now Norfolk County Council is encouraging others to do the same as part of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month this February.
Stonewall revealed that two in five primary school teachers say pupils experience homophobic bullying, even if they are not gay. It is also the most prevalent form of bullying after bullying because of weight.
Hazel Spinks, headteacher of Fairstead Junior School, said: “Our school has always been fully inclusive and getting involved with Stonewall has highlighted everything we do to champion diversity and celebrate differences.
“It’s not just about homophobic behaviour, it’s about racism, too, and accepting everybody no matter what their culture, lifestyle or skin colour.
“We are educating them now before it becomes a problem in future.”
Lesley Cook, headteacher of Fakenham Junior School, said: “We decided to become a Stonewall school as a direct response to the number of children who used the word ‘gay’ as an insult.
“It is a whole school approach which works well for different types of name calling, a stage which many children go through, including racist, sexist and homophobic comments.”