Leave It Out: developing anti-homophobic bullying practice in schools

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Homophobia is not unique to Northern Ireland, but it does exist and manifests itself in a multitude of ways within our society. In recent years, the Human Rights Commission, the Department of Education for Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children & Young People, Youthnet and The Rainbow Project have all produced reports confirming that homophobic bullying is a problem within our schools.These reports reveal that enduring repeated verbal and physical abuse motivated by homophobia is leading some children and young people to attain less and to leave school earlier. Experiencing homophobic bullying also leads a significant number of these children and young people to engage in high risk behaviours. These include increased levels of alcohol and substance abuse, self harm and suicide. However, in spite of this evidence of the impact of homophobic bullying on children and young people's safety and welfare, there has been little focus on this specific type of bullying until now. This is a particular concern for the project partners involved in this resource - Save the Children, The Rainbow Project and Youthnet's shOut Project. In the absence of clear policy, strategic targets or guidance, schools and teachers have felt powerless and lacked the confidence to consistently challenge homophobia and homophobic bullying in the learning environment. The purpose of this resource is to help break that silence and bring some focus to the issue for practitioners dealing with issues on a day to day basis.

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