Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP launches petition against homophobic bullying

1.57.59pm BST (GMT +0100) Thu 8th Jun 2006

Gay Pride Flag (designed 1978 by Gilbert Baker)

Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West and member of the Education and Skills Select Committee, Stephen Williams, has launched an online petition against homophobic bullying along with his Lib Dem colleague and Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Sarah Teather MP.

Stephen Williams said "Homophobic bullying is a painful issue that too many pupils, teachers and parents have to deal with every day. We want their voices to be heard in the wider debate on how to stamp out all types of bullying in schools.

"If a pupil is bullied because of race, looks or a disability they are likely to at least have supportive parents or peers. This is often not the case for young gay people and it is difficult for them to know which teacher they can confide in.

"Putting a duty on schools will ensure there is someone for the young person to turn to and will send out a message that homophobic abuse should be treated with the same zero tolerance as racist abuse. Schools should be safe places of learning for all children irrespective of their sexuality."

Sarah Teather added "Our petition is calling for all schools to develop measures to tackle homophobic bullying. Taunts and name calling should be challenged immediately so that it's clear such behaviour won't be tolerated.

"Liberal Democrats are concerned about all aspects of bullying but are focusing the spotlight on homophobic abuse because it's currently harder to monitor and stop.

"Teachers and staff can be victims of this type of harassment in schools as well as pupils. School leaders need to take responsibility for ensuring schools are safe and welcoming environments for everyone - no matter their race, gender or sexuality."

The petition reads:

We, the undersigned, call for the following to support and protect the victims of homophobic bullying:

1. Homophobic taunts and name calling in schools should be challenged immediately by staff.

2. All schools' anti-bullying policies should be required to include measures specifically to deal with homophobic bullying.

3. At least one teacher in every school should undergo training which includes how to tackle homophobic bullying

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Previous news story: Students should not continue to suffer in lecturers' pay dispute says Stephen Williams MP. (Fri 2nd Jun 2006).
Next news story: Stephen Williams MP calls on young people to take part in online job prospects debate (Tue 13th Jun 2006).

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