Addressing homophobic bullying in second-level schools

Case Studies & Research
The Equality Authority
68 p.

Irish legislation and educational policy guidance requires schools to promote equality of access to and participation in education. In this context schools are required to address discrimination, harassment and bullying, including homophobic harassment and bullying. However these are relatively recent developments, and much work remains to be done to put in place practical and meaningful responses at school level. The aim of this report and the research contained within it is to assist schools in developing a positive and practical response to homophobic bullying. This first chapter sets the context for the rest of the report. In it we briefly discuss the phenomenon of homophobic bullying in schools and its effects on young lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people. We also outline the legislative and policy provisions of most relevance to homophobic bullying in schools. In Chapter 2 we summarise the findings of our review of relevant international literature. The specific focus of this literature review was initiatives and actions that schools can implement to effectively address homophobic bullying. A number of important themes and initiatives were identified and these are reported here. Relatively little is known about whether and how Irish schools are addressing homophobia and homophobic bullying. Thus the primary aim of this study was to document initiatives being taken to address homophobic bullying in Irish second level schools. Following an extensive search to identify relevant initiatives, six schools were identified as having an initiative in place that was sufficiently developed to justify being included as a case study in this report. These Irish case studies are presented in Chapter 3. The need to embed specific anti bullying initiatives in a planned and systematic wholeschool approach is a recurring theme throughout the review of literature and the Irish case studies. Chapter 4 concludes this report by outlining seven essential elements that can be used as a check list by school leaders who are trying to develop a whole school approach to the problem of homophobic bullying.

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