Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt pledged to clamp down on homophobia in schools yesterday as campaigners warned that politicians must “put money where their mouth is.”
Kicking off LGBT history month celebrations, Mr Hunt said he wanted a zero-tolerance attitude towards the “deeply troubling” bullying.
“The use of homophobic language and other forms of homophobic bullying is damaging the life chances of so many young people,” he said.
“There is no place for it in our society, and never should it be ignored in our schools.”
In response to new figures indicating that 52,000 pupils are skipping school due to homophobic bullying, Mr Hunt also promised further teacher training, compulsory sex education and mental health services for harassed LGBT young people.
But Sue Sanders, the chair of the Schools Out campaign — which creates LGBT awareness toolkits for teachers in Britain and abroad, said schools need more than words.
“I would like him to have compulsory equality and diversity training for every teacher,” said Ms Sanders.
“Just doing it on homophobia isn’t always the best way to go about it — people tend to forget there are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in all communities, of all ethnicities, religions, disabled and everything else.”
She added that while Schools Out had originally initiated LGBT history month and was used regularly by teachers across the world, it was still severely underfunded.
“We would love him to actually put some money where his mouth is.
“To deliver good training requires quite a bit of time, effort and money.”