Faith schools need to show Stonewall's new film

By Jonathan Bartley
January 22, 2010

The Guardian reports this morning that many schools are to screen a film about homophobic bullying next month. I am hoping that faith schools in particular will take part in the intiative because it is there that the need is the greatest.

Produced by Stonewall and part funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the film called FIT is aimed at trying to stop pupils using the word "gay" in a derogatory way.

Homophobic bullying is 10% more likely in Faith Schools according to research by Stonewall. But alarmingly amongst certain sections of the church there seems to be a denial that it takes place at all.

Last week, I did an interview on the subject, on Christian Radio Station Premier Radio, with a spokesperson from Family and Youth Concern. Although their business is supposed to be the welfare of young people, there was an apparent reluctance to even accept that homophobic bullying goes on. I am not aware of any concerted initiatives by the churches to tackle the issue either.

A poll of more than 2,000 teachers from all schools, commissioned by Stonewall last year, found that 90% thought homophobic bullying occurred in their school. But clearly there is a particular problem in faith schools which needs to be tackled.

This is all of great concern since gay and lesbian children are up to six times more likely to commit suicide, something that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg drew attention to in a recent interview. Predictably, churches issued statements about their rights to teach that sex outside marriage is wrong, and said nothing about the rights of children not to be bullied.

This is the trailer for FIT.

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