Thursday, 12 May 2011
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
Members of GALYIC are holding a 'Speak Out' at Hebden Bridge Town Hall. At 6 pm on Tuesday 17th May, members will share their experiences in public with the aim of making more people aware of the problem and, hopefully, encouraging schools, politicians and other professionals to do something about it.
Homophobic bullying is happening in all schools across Calderdale. The victims can be gay or perceived to be gay or have relatives who are gay. The majority of GALYIC (Gay and Lesbian Youth in Calderdale) members, both past and present, have either experienced homophobic bullying and/or witnessed it. And it ain't getting any better. In fact, if anything, it is getting worse.
It isn't usually a one-off event. Many GALYIC members experience homophobic abuse on a daily or weekly basis and, for some, it has been going on for years.
Take Ahmed for example. Ahmed is 12. He does not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) but because people perceive him to be either gay or transgender, he has experienced verbal and physical bullying from Junior School through to Secondary School.
Jude, who is 16, now identifies as a young lesbian. She says she has been bullied throughout her education. It started with petty things because she was the 'new girl' at her school but it got really bad when, in year 10, she came out as bisexual. She was bullied in school, with verbal remarks, being tripped up and pushed about and on Facebook. This led to her feeling suicidal and self-harming.
Carl is a 16 year old young gay man. The bullying for him also started in Junior School and continued throughout Secondary School. He experienced bullying at three different schools: not only name-calling but also having his head flushed down the toilet and being beaten up.
Amy is 12. She has experienced verbal abuse throughout junior school, has recently moved up to High School where the bullying has started again. She is getting bullied because her mother is lesbian.
All of these young people have several things in common: they all go to schools in Calderdale, they have all experienced homophobic abuse in their school and for each one of them, the bullying has seriously affected their education. It is time to stop this!
The new Public Sector Equality Duty, which became law early in April this year, makes it clear that all public services, including schools, have a duty to proactively challenge homophobia and provide services that meet the needs of LGBT young people. Clearly if young people are being bullied they are not receiving a good education; in fact many are truanting or dropping out of school early to get away from the bullies.
Government have also announced that Ofsted will give more weight in their inspections to tackling bullying and, in particular, homophobic bullying.
GALYIC have responded to this situation by,
- working with Calderdale Council to produce a leaflet aimed at teachers, giving ideas about how to support young LGBT people;
- setting up free, on-line, training aimed at raising the awareness of professionals about issues facing LGBT young people.
On top of this, several GALYIC members have given presentations to politicians and professionals, sharing their experiences of dealing with homophobia, locally, regionally and nationally.
May 17th is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).
To coincide with this, members of GALYIC are holding a 'Speak Out' at Hebden Bridge Town Hall. At 6 p.m. members will share their experiences in public with the aim of making more people aware of the problem and, hopefully, encouraging schools, politicians and other professionals to do something about it.
In fact, more and more schools are supporting LGBT students. GALYIC are now working with over half of all secondary schools in Calderdale. But much, much, more needs to be done to both tackle the bullying as well as supporting young people affected by it.
So in response, GALYIC are working in partnership with Calderdale Young People's Service, to launch a new support group called Rainbow Alliance. The aim is to support those young people who experience homophobic bullying whether they are LGBT or they are children of LGBTs or simply because others 'think' they are gay.
The first Rainbow Alliance has been set up at a confidential venue in the Upper Valley. If it is successful it is planned to develop another one in the Lower Valley with the purpose of supporting young people to support each other and gain the confidence to challenge bullying in their schools.
Contact GALYIC: 01422 844858