Victory for anti-bullying campaigners

A group of girls have scored a victory for acceptance by having their school recognise the unnoticed problem of homophobic bullying. The students, at Queen s Park Community School in Aylestone Avenue, said they scored a victory in getting their schoo

A group of girls have scored a victory for acceptance by having their school recognise the 'unnoticed' problem of homophobic bullying.

The students, at Queen's Park Community School in Aylestone Avenue, said they scored a victory in getting their school's bullying policy changed to specifically refer to homophobia as an issue.

Grace Organ, 17, who lives in Burrows Road, Kensal Rise, said: "We've had friends who were victims of sustained homophobic abuse.

"Lots of teachers felt they couldn't say anything and were afraid to say something.


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"We wanted to make the school policy clear, because our school's ethos of inclusiveness is so strong and it seemed incongruous with that."

Eighteen-year-old Karimah Douglas explained that the group had started the campaign in September 2008, when representatives from a group called Envision came to the school and urged young people to begin a campaign on the issue of their choice.

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The campaign started with aiming to change the school's bullying policy but grew into something more comprehensive, extending its reach to Facebook and involving assemblies and wide-ranging surveys with students.

Grace said the main problem with homophobic bullying was that it 'puts you on the defensive.'

She said: "It never gets solved and there is a culture of saying that something is 'gay' and people don't see a correlation between that and bullying. It's common practice and everyone seems to say it."

The girls said education was the best way to challenge the problem.

Queen's Park ward Lib Dem Cllr Will Motley, who has campaigned for the council to get tough on this form of bullying, said he thought teachers and school leadership teams still had a long way to go in getting to grips with the issue.

He said: "This is the 'Cinderella' issue of the bullying spectrum. People are often afraid that if they challenge it they will be thought to be gay themselves or that the abuse will turn in their direction."

He called on teachers to do more to tackle the problem.

He said: "Teachers are very busy with a complex profession, so a sensitive and difficult issue like this can easily be filed under 'To be dealt with another day.'

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