Faith schools slammed for complacency over LGBT discrimination

June 27, 2017

Faith schools continue to be the worst type of school for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pupils new findings published today from the LGBT equality charity Stonewall reveal. Stonewall’s new study – their third five yearly report into the experience of LGBT pupils in British schools – echo findings from its earlier reports, which both found harassment and bullying of LGBT pupils to be worse at faith schools. The new report finds that

  • 31% of LGBT pupils in faith schools say that teachers and school staff never challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language when they hear it (compared to 22% of those in non-faith schools)
  • 57% of LGBT pupils at faith schools report that their school says homophobic and biphobic bullying is wrong, compared to 68% of LGBT pupils at all types schools as whole
  • 29% of LGBT pupils at faith schools report that their school says transphobic bullying is wrong, compared to 41% of LGBT pupils at all types schools as a whole
  • LGBT pupils of faith are somewhat more likely to have tried to take their own life than those who aren’t of faith (30% compared to 25%)

Chair of the Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said ‘Schools are captive environments. That many in Britain are still failing to provide a secure and healthy environment for LGBT pupils is a national scandal.’

‘School environments are generally better than they were for LGBT pupils, which is to be welcomed. But many staff and pupils continue to be burdened by or to endure a miserable experience in schools due to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and attitudes. This can have a huge impact on children’s health, happiness and ability to flourish.
‘Especially worrying is the complacency by the faith school sector, which is not making a special effort to tackle LGBT discrimination. It is yet again found to lag behind all other types of school, despite having been repeatedly shown to be more likely to fail their LGBT pupils.’.
‘Schools should be doing more to tackle discrimination. We urge Government agencies to take firmer action and work with education providers, including faith school sponsors, to ensure schools better challenge prejudice and proactively promote an acceptance of sexual diversity and transgender people.
Earlier this month Vishnitz Girls School – an Orthodox Jewish school in Hackney – was revealed to have failed its third OFSTED inspection, including for failing to teach enough respect for or about LGBT people.
Several schools have been rewarded by the Accord Coalition’s annual Inclusivity Award for exemplary work in tackling homophobia. Schools include the winner of the 2011 Award – Gwinear Community Primary School in West Cornwall – and St George’s Voluntary Aided School, a Christian school in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, which came second in the 2012 Award.
After the management of St George’s School became aware that homophobic bullying was worse in faith schools (following publication of Stonewall’s 2007 ‘The School Report’), they embarked on an ambitious programme to minimise homophobic bullying, based in a Christian context of treating everyone with respect and kindness. The school shows how faith schools can – which the sufficient will – take combating homophobia seriously.
The school secured support from the Governing Body for tackling homophobia, and its work initially centred on staff training. The school publicly launched its anti-homophobia campaign to coincide with a visit from the Oscar nominated actor, Sir Ian McKellen, and has been sustained with further activities, including senior students putting forward the case against homophobic bullying in school assemblies, and a presentation on Personal, Social, Health and Economic education by a gay serviceman in the Royal Navy..The school has declined to engage with those outside of the school who have challenged its homophobia work on a theological basis.

Stonewall’s 2017 ‘School Report’ can be downloaded at It follows publication of its 2007 and 2012 reports into the experiences of lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people in Britain’s schools.

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