Sheffield schools praised for tackling gay abuse

Get over it: Staff and pupils from Forge Valley School have been working on an anti-bullying campaign. '               PICTURE: DEAN ATKINS.
Get over it: Staff and pupils from Forge Valley School have been working on an anti-bullying campaign. ' PICTURE: DEAN ATKINS.
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A CRACKDOWN on the homophobic bullying ‘rife’ in Sheffield’s schools is gathering support.

Sheffield Council has praised the efforts of schools for tacking the problem, which it says affects two-thirds of gay, lesbian or bisexual pupils in secondary education.

King Edward VII School and Language College, Broomhill, and Forge Valley Community School, Stannington, have received a gold standard in a charter set up by education bosses, South Yorkshire Police, the NHS and youth organisations.

Both introduced a series of measures to tackle the problem, including writing new policies, creating displays and posters and launching campaigns.

Staff and students have also adopted the slogan ‘What’s the Big Deal?’ to drill home the message of tolerance.

Kim Wilson, King Edward curriculum lead for personal, social and health education, said: “The most common comment has been there hasn’t been any comments, it’s just been normal.

“This is a phenomenal achievement – seeing staff and students talking about the issues in such an ordinary way is exactly as it should be.

“LGBT issues have been addressed as a school for many years with a view to nurturing an inclusive, safer and more successful environment.

“Homophobic bullying is no less offensive than racist bullying and is dealt with as such.

“School resources used include positive, non-stereotypical images regarding sexuality and gender – and we have formed important links with support groups who have carried out workshops.”

The charter was formed when the council joined charity Stonewall’s education champion’s programme, providing support to deal with homophobia.

To celebrate their success, Forge Valley pupils donned T-shirts bearing the message ‘Some people are gay - get over it’.