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Bullies - and teachers - target gay pupils, say researchers.

More than 150,000 pupils have been targeted by school bullies because they are gay, research suggested yesterday.

Two-thirds of lesbian and gay pupils have experienced homophobic bullying, ranging from verbal abuse to violence and even death threats, the survey by equality organisation Stonewall found.

About half of teachers did not intervene when children used homophobic language like "dyke", "queer" or "rug muncher", the study said.

And some pupils even claimed their teachers joined in with the abuse.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said the figures suggested about 156,000 pupils had suffered homophobic bullying in Britain's schools.

"These deeply disturbing figures should serve as a wake-up call to everyone working in education," he said.

"This is a damning legacy of Section 28, which deterred schools from tackling anti-gay bullying for so long.

"This remains one of the few sorts of bullying about which too many schools still take no action.

"It blights the lives not just of gay children but of thousands of pupils perceived to be lesbian or gay too."

Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act banned the "promotion" of homosexuality, leading many schools to believe they could not tackle anti-gay bullying.

Section 28 was repealed in 2003 but the Stonewall report suggested most gay pupils were still being bullied.

Nearly all the 1,100 gay, lesbian and bisexual pupils surveyed said they heard derogatory phrases in school, such as "poof", or "that's so gay", the report said.

But homophobic bullying can be far more extreme. The study said 41 per cent of gay and lesbian pupils had experienced physical abuse, 17 per cent had received death threats and 12 per cent had been sexually assaulted.

Sending a clear message that anti-gay bullying is wrong can dramatically cut levels of such abuse, the study said.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "All forms of bullying are unacceptable.

"We are pleased that Stonewall have highlighted this important issue and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 27, 2007
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