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Saturday, 18 May 2013

Safe at School and homophobic bullying

Prior to reading Wednesday's Standard (, I lived in ignorance of the self-proclaimed, self-appointed "Safe at School campaign", one of whose member(s) is quoted as saying: "Parents expect a school to provide an education, not subject their children to gay propaganda."

The "gay propaganda" in question is material produced by Stonewall to encourage children not to bully those other children who are thought by the bullies to be gay. It beggars belief that a spokeswoman for an organisation that calls itself Safe at School could possibly oppose the use of such material in the education of our nation's children.

I myself was subjected to such "propaganda" when the headteacher of my junior school gathered the pupils together and asked us to please stop using "spastic" as a term of playground abuse, given what the word "spastic" actually means. Would Safe at School have opposed that as well?

In asserting so vigorously what parents apparently expect, Safe at School's spokeswoman lays claim to an impressive degree of empathy. I suggest to her that she also tries to empathise with the child who is being bullied because s/he is or appears to be gay, or to be black, or to be Jewish, or to be a Christian, or to be a Muslim, or to be a 'spastic', or to have a parent who professes deeply illiberal views on efforts to oppose homophobic bullying.

Is she really saying that she opposes efforts to end all types of bullying? Does she really believe that Stonewall's efforts to minimise the bullying of children who might be gay amount to no more than "gay propaganda"? Is she saying that there are two sides to every question and that pupils must therefore be exposed not only to arguments against homophobic bullying, but also to arguments in its favour?! Her definition of "Safe at School" appears to be a little different from mine.

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