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Stonewall would like your backing for a campaign about homophobic language in schools: what do you think?

(98 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 22-Oct-13 10:48:32


The campaigning organisation Stonewall, with whom we've done a bit of work in the past, is asking whether Mumsnet can give its collective support to a new campaign about the use of homophobic language by schoolchildren, and the way that schools deal with this problem. As ever, we'd like to know what you think about adding Mumsnet's voice to this.

The central issue is around the pejorative use by children of words and phrases like 'gay' and 'you're so gay': whether schools recognise such language as homophobic, whether they take appropriate steps to tackle it, and whether children in schools are given appropriate and clear guidance about the unacceptability of this sort of language. The campaign will concentrate on working with schools to give training and support where necessary.

The campaign hasn't launched yet, and Stonewall doesn't want to give away all its campaign tactics before the launch (understandably), but if you have any specific questions about the methods and aims of the campaigns, let us know and we'll see if we can get answers for you.

Please do also use this thread to let us know what you think about Mumsnet officially getting behind this one.


smee Tue 22-Oct-13 13:53:56

Agree with Empress, it should definitely be in Primary schools.

LadyCurd Tue 22-Oct-13 13:55:38

Worriedthistimearound where are you getting your info? Local authorities and heads absolutely shouldn't be saying its a KS3 thing. This work can, should and is being done in primary schools.
I work across local authorities and none of the ones I work for would ever dream of saying that. Admittedly there are issues at individual school level but LA and nationally is clear it is important to do this work at primary.

TheKnackeredChef Tue 22-Oct-13 14:04:13

That's interesting, Ladycurd. My DD (Y6) was fobbed off only last week about this when she went to complain to the deputy head at her primary that there was homophobic bullying going on in the playground. I was appalled when she told me that they don't cover same sex relationships at all until secondary school. I shall investigate further and start ruffling some feathers!

I'd be all in favour of a campaign with Stonewall. Happy to help in any way.

SunshineSuperNova Tue 22-Oct-13 14:11:10

I think it's a great idea.

trockodile Tue 22-Oct-13 14:13:01

I would definitely support such a campaign, I think it is really important that children (and adults)realise the power that words have to hurt and not excuse homophobic language with the old 'pc gorn mad' mentality.

LadyCurd Tue 22-Oct-13 14:13:56

DM me for more info if you want Theknackeredchef.
Can give you all the right pressure points for the head ;)

Worriedthistimearound Tue 22-Oct-13 14:15:50

Ladycurd, this is from my own experience of fighting against it when I was teaching Y6. It came up during the sex ed session and I wanted to discuss it openly with the kids. I felt that as they'd asked in a mature way the least I could go was answer them honestly and make sure they heard the facts rather than hearsay. But I was told absolutely no. I went through exactly the same thing trying to get them to allow me to discuss masturbation. I was told absolutely not. The parents had been consulted, had agreed to lessons on sexual intercourse (though only straight sex allowed to be discussed) but absolutely drew the line at masturbation. Total madness considering that should be their first sexual experience and should be enjoyed without fear or shame.

Worriedthistimearound Tue 22-Oct-13 14:17:49

Meant to add, I contacted the SRE consultant at county to be told they support the general 'leave it to ks3' strategy and it was up to governors to have final word.

LadyCurd Tue 22-Oct-13 14:22:56

Blimey that's sad. Was this your head rather than LA though? Worth flagging up equality act with school- currently not meeting LGBT kids needs or kids with LGBT parents or family members by providing a heteronormative curriculum. That doesn't mean talking about "gay sex" at primary level (a misnomer anyhow as any sex act you can imagine pretty much can be done if gay or straight!), but mentioning same sex relationships is important.
I reccomend space girl pukes, if I had 100 mummies, &tango makes three or king &king as entirely age appropriate awesome storybooks for primary schools.

LadyCurd Tue 22-Oct-13 14:23:59

headdesk can you DM me which area. Might have to poke them! Ahem!

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 22-Oct-13 16:30:28

Hello everyone

Thanks for your views so far.

We'll see if we can get some input from Stonewall on the specific questions you've raised.


Worriedthistimearound Tue 22-Oct-13 17:33:32

You'd be surprised at how many parents worry that teaching about any of this stuff including homosexuality is more likely to lead to their 11yr olds indulging. I suppose it's a throw back to their own poor sex ed but it's difficult to get the point across esp to governors that sex ed at 11 won't lead to promiscuous 11yr olds and that teaching about same sex relationships will not 'make' a child gay but hopefully foster understanding and perhaps act as reassurance to any child already feeling 'different' in those terms or to others who may start to become aware of their homosexuality over the next couple of years.

Puberty and sexuality is stressful and confusing to all teenagers. I think we owe it to our kids to prepare them for it as much as possible do they know those feelings, whatever they may be, are normal and acceptable.

MrsDavidBowie Tue 22-Oct-13 17:48:24

Great idea. I am doing a homophobic bullying training day with Shaun Dellenty, who has links with Stonewall.
I am shocked how many primary school children do think homosexuality is abnormal.....they are voicing their parents' opinions sadly.

TEErickOrTEEreat Tue 22-Oct-13 17:52:49

Sounds fabulous but it will never wash in Northern Ireland.

So I assume they are targeting England, Scotland and Wales?

SirChenjin Tue 22-Oct-13 17:58:45

I asked that upthread too TEE - it will be interesting to see, as I hope they do (although there is no way they will get it into the Catholic schools unfortunately).

I'm all for the proposal, but I think they would be more successful if they take an interagency/partnership approach - if they could get it into the health and wellbeing part of our Curriculum for Excellence for example to be taught at age appropriate stages then I think it would be more effective that 'just' a Stonewall campaign

FeverAndTheFret Tue 22-Oct-13 18:09:40

Tackling homophobia and homophobic language in school is important and a good campaign to support I would think...

But, sometimes challenges to language usage are ill thought out and clumsy resulting in something like this:

Bobby: " ... You're so gay, Kieran!"

Mrs Fretwell: " Bobby. Don't speak like that. It's not nice!"

And Bobby and Kieran may then conclude perhaps that being gay is 'not nice'...

Worriedthistimearound Tue 22-Oct-13 18:16:23

Fever, that was exactly my point earlier. If we as teachers are not allowed to explain why it's not very nice then it makes it all very ambiguous in the minds of children. We need honesty and clarity if we are to tackle such things.

Perspective21 Tue 22-Oct-13 18:22:53

I would love MN to lend support in someway. I have a DD in high school and I'm aware from her FB that terms such as gay, mong, retard and you're special are bandied about unchallenged.

Her school have had a great couple of days awareness on relationships of all kinds and counsellors have been in to talk to teens who are wondering about their own sexuality...given all this, I can't understand why "you're gay" is such a common insult.

TEErickOrTEEreat Tue 22-Oct-13 18:23:22

It's a good point, Fever and Worried.

I was very active with GLBT organisations in high school and college (US) and it's not enough to say 'don't say that'.

You need to say why.

Just like when my son told his friend 'you throw like a girl' I explained that some girls throw quite well, thank you.

trockodile Tue 22-Oct-13 18:31:05

MrsDavidBowie-that sounds really interesting. I've been following Shaun Dellenty on Twitter for a while, and he does have some really interesting articles etc.
Here's one where he talks about the situation mentioned by Fever.

CMOTDibbler Tue 22-Oct-13 19:06:02

I look forward to this campaign, and fully support it

lionheart Tue 22-Oct-13 19:31:01

Absolutely. I know Stonewall already does some fantastic work with schools.

I raised this once with my son's school (year 6) and was told that they would try to deal with it if they heard it (not exactly proactive).

When I followed up with a question about whether sexuality was raised at all as part of the NC they got very sheepish and said that some parents would not like this. I think the teachers were pretty much cowed by the response they thought they might get and which perhaps, would only come from a minority, but which dictated what they felt they could and could not do.

I think the campaign would perhaps work best in terms of a wider discussion of sexuality, sexual differences and homophobia (and I don't think the last year of primary is too early to get this underway).

Devora Tue 22-Oct-13 19:47:01

Great idea. I am gay with two children at a school that is in many ways great but could do with more guidance in this area.

HerenaHarridan, I think I have an old copy of Spacegirl Pukes somewhere. Happy to pass it on if you would like it.

Tinlegs Tue 22-Oct-13 19:51:49

Yes....definitely. Please find out if it is Scotland too. Happy to be the contact in my school.

BloodshotDays Tue 22-Oct-13 19:53:20

This is something I wholeheartedly support. I'm a TA and have regular discussions with pupils when they use that language which mainly results in a lot of 'is that because you're gay sir?' type questions sigh.

I can see past it with the pupil's but what does get to me is occasionally the way members of staff speak - had to bite my tongue last week when a cover supervisor commented on a boy messing about in class as putting a 'gay bow' in his hair, in front of the entire class!

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