SHEFFIELD Council has been ranked as one of the best councils in the country for its work in tackling homophobic bullying in schools.
The local authority is listed as the fourth best in England for its groundbreaking work to stamp out bullying against homosexual youngsters.
Earlier this year the council set up an anti-homophobic bullying charter and urged all schools to sign up to it.
It was this idea which national gay rights campaign group Stonewall recognised when it put together a list of the local authorities doing the most to help prevent children from being bullied because of their sexuality.
Delegates from Sheffield Council were informed about their ranking in the league table at a special event in London, as part of Stonewall’s Education for All national conference.
Speaking at the event, host Gok Wan, best known for his How To Look Good Naked TV programme, said: “This is an issue very close to my heart, having experienced homophobic bullying myself.
“By sharing my experience of overcoming this, I really hope I can help schools to tackle this massive problem so that young people can be totally confident about who they are.”
Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “I passionately believe that no-one has the right to bully anyone else, and especially not over their sexuality. I am proud that Sheffield Council has been named as one of the best councils in the country for tackling this hurtful, intimidating and totally unnecessary behaviour.
“Tackling poor behaviour and bullying are top priorities for the council.
“By re-educating young people this will get the message across that bullying, of any kind and of any child, is always completely unacceptable.”
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall’s chief executive, said: “Stonewall was delighted to announce that Sheffield Council had secured fourth place in our inaugural Education Equality Index.
“Its work to tackle homophobia and homophobic bullying demonstrates a firm commitment to promoting a truly safe learning environment for all young people.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Sheffield Council to ensure equality in schools in Sheffield remains a high priority.
“We hope that Sheffield Council’s excellent achievement inspires other local authorities to make their schools inclusive for all their pupils.”