Principals Neglect To Tell School Boards About Homophobic Bullying

A girl sitting on her own with a pen and a red hairband, possibly as a result of homophobic bullying, which primary school principals are dismissing as not important enough to tell the school board

While 57% of primary school principals had spoken to students about use of homophobic language, only 6% of them had told the school board about such instances


Research carried out by Dublin City University’s National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) revealed that primary school principals  are failing to report instances of homophobic bullying to school boards.

Between 61% and 65% of principals had instances of pupils using words like ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘queer’, ‘faggot’ in a negative manner or accompanying those words with aggressive or negative behaviour.

More than half of primary school principals (57%) indicated that they had dealt with these kinds of instances personally.

Only 16% of principals said that they had dealt with an incident themselves that they would describe as homophobic bullying, which reveals a discrepancy between what a principal might deem as homophobic bullying and what an LGBT person would deem it to be.

Only 14% of principals had spoken to a class about homophobic bullying, while even fewer had discussed it during a staff meeting (7%), and only 6% had told the school board about such an incident in the past year.



This highlights what research from BeLonG To has already revealed: that education surrounding bullying of LGBT people must begin in primary education, as even young LGBT children are at risk of being negatively impacted by homophobic bullying.

Former principal Gerard Farrelly and ABC researchers James O’Higgins Norman and Michael O’Leary said that principals’ responses call attention to uses of homophobic language being dismissed without sufficient action.

“Words such as ‘gay’ are used as derogatory terms but children are only repeating words heard without fully comprehending their meaning,” a primary school principal said in a response.


Tackle Homophobia Early

O’Higgins Norman said: “It is clear from our findings that further education and training for school leaders on the topic is required as we are at risk of them contributing further to the many silences that surround the topic in primary schools.”

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, TD is “deeply concerned” by the issue of homophobic bullying in primary schools.

“It was three years ago that schools were asked to put anti-bullying policies in place, so clearly the fact that it is going down to primary school level deeply upsets me,” she said.

BeLonG To recently released ‘All Together Now‘, a resource for primary school teachers which provides them with information and lesson plans to help them tackle the issues of LGBT bullying and homophobia in the classroom as part of the Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) class.

How do you think homophobia and bullying of LGBT people can be prevented in primary schools? Let us know in the comments.

© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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