Brian Paddick: Schools must do more to fight homophobia

From a speech by the Metropolitan Police's deputy assistant commissioner at a Tory summit for young gays
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The Independent Online

People are getting away with publishing homophobic material that, if related to race or religion, would cause a public outcry. It?s time to end a hierarchy of diversity.

The picture in relation to homophobic bullying in schools is mixed. Voluntary organisations such as Schools Out and Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays have been trying, with mixed success, to force the issue of homophobic incidents in schools on to the agenda of the police and education authorities.

There is significant potential, with the spread of Safer Schools Partnerships, in which a police officer is permanently based in a school, for greater support to be made available to young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people. The officers are breaking down the barriers between the police and young people.

Greater Manchester Police have produced a resources pack on homophobic bullying in schools and we in London are looking at this initiative with interest. There are twin barriers to be overcome here ? the traditional barriers between police officers and young people and the traditional barriers between the police and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual community.

Section 28 has not helped, but significantly more effort needs to be made in this area. Unless you have been there yourself, you do not understand what it is like to be relentlessly bullied because of your sexuality at school, and believing that you cannot tell your friends, your teachers, your family or the police.

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