A SHOCKING report due to be released tomorrow by Stonewall Scotland indicates that schools are doing little to combat homophobia.
Stonewall’s investigation is the first-ever study the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual schoolchildren in Scotland.
Colin Macfarlane, Director of Stonewall Scotland, told the Sunday Herald:
The report shows the stark reality of the situation in our schools today. It is very worrying that only 11 percent of our respondents hear their teacher repeatedly challenge homophobic bullying when they encounter it. There is clearly a major issue in Scottish schools about tackling homophobia.
More than half of the young people who took part in the study – which follows similar research carried out for Stonewall UK last week – said they had experienced homophobic bullying in school, with one in four reporting that they tried to take their own life at some point, and more than half deliberately harming themselves.
Half of those surveyed didn't feel they were working to their full potential at school and seven out of 10 admitted skipping school at some point because of homophobic bullying.
The Sunday Herald focused on the experience of Scott Gorman, who came out while he was still at school and became the target of homophobic bullying .
He was spat on, had hot soup poured over him and his school books torn up.
His life became unbearable and he eventually left the school – sickened not just by the attitude of his peers but also disgusted by the failure of teachers to stamp out homophobia, and even tacitly encouraging it at times. Gorman asked the Sunday Herald not to name his school as he has relatives there.
When his sexuality became known, the news spread quickly, with reactions ranging from "shock and disgust" to support from his closest friends. He was regularly targeted by a group of bullies.
I was never actually hit but always seemed to be having liquids getting thrown over me. I got spat on and hot soup and chocolate milk thrown at me.
But where Scott could have expected protection from his school, he encountered discrimination with his PE teacher insisting he change away from the rest of his class.
In PE I was asked to use the disabled changing rooms as the other boys weren't comfortable with me sharing with them.
It was this incident which led to him leaving school early. He swore at the PE teacher and was suspended. Later, he was asked to leave the school on the grounds of his "personal choices".
I was disgusted. I was gay and open about it. I was seen as a bad role model.
George Broadhead, secretary of the Pink Triangle Truist commented:
This must be the most shocking type of discrimination and hostility still faced by LGB people and made all the worse because they are at such a vulnerable age. A previous Stonewall report on this sort of bullying revealed that it was much higher in so-called faith schools. Surprise! Surprise!
Photograph: Colin Templeton