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Bullying of gays rife in schools: survey

By Lisa Smyth

Over two thirds of teachers and lecturers have reported hearing homophobic language in the classroom, according to a teaching union survey.

As the Government issues new guidelines to help schools deal with homophobic bullying, it has emerged that students are using terminology such as gay, poof and lezzie in Ulster schools and colleges.

A survey carried out across UK schools by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in July has shown that boys were the worst offenders when it came to name calling.

However, the survey also showed that in the majority of cases, another male pupil was the victim of the name calling.

Teachers said the main reason for the name calling was a perceived lack of confirming to peer expectations, followed by not belonging to a peer group.

ATL director in Northern Ireland Mark Langhammer said: "Regrettably, homophobia and homophobic bullying remain a pervasive problem within our schools and colleges.

"Education plays a crucial role in bringing about cultural change and promoting a just and fair society in which everyone, whatever their sexual orientation, feels equally valued, respected and safe.

"We hope the Government's new guidance on homophobic bullying will encourage and require all members of our school and college communities to work towards eradicating homophobia, transphobia and biphobia wherever and however they occur."

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