New guide to help teachers tackle homophobic bullying The Guardian, Polly Curtis, education correspondent Tuesday November 23, 2004 The government today laid to rest the infamous Section 28 law which restricted teachers from addressing homosexuality with pupils by backing guidelines which actively promote its discussion. The schools minister, Stephen Twigg, today launched Stand Up for Us, a guide for teachers produced by the National Healthy Schools Standard organisation, which advises schools to teach about all types of relationships, not just heterosexual ones. Such advice would once have contravened Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 which prohibited local authorities from "promoting" homosexuality or gay "pretended family relationships", and prevented councils from spending money on educational materials and projects perceived to promote a gay lifestyle. Section 28 was dropped from the statute books nearly exactly a year ago, 15 years after it became law. Teachers' representatives and gay rights groups consistently campaigned against it. The guide, which was published to coincide with this week's first ever national anti- bullying week, advises teachers to recommend that children keep a log of homophobic incidents, that tackling homophobia should be included in school plans and that all types of relationships should be discussed in personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons. Gay rights groups have welcomed the move. Andy Forrest, a spokesperson for the campaigning group Stonewall, which is currently planning its own advice for teachers to help them tackle homophobic bullying, said: "It's great they [the government] are taking that stance and putting right the wrongs that were done through Section 28.” "Schools have good policies on dealing with racist bullying and racist harassment but lots of schools aren't good or confident at dealing with homophobic bullying." The guidelines were launched at the Royal Society of Arts in London today by Mr Twigg, who also launched a new anti-bullying award in the memory of Diana, the Princess of Wales. The award will be given to primary and secondary school pupils who make an "outstanding contribution" to stopping bullies in their own playgrounds and local communities. The minister said: "I am delighted to see the Diana Award particularly recognising young people who have tackled bullying. Bullying has a destructive effect on any young person's life." He added: "The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Award encapsulates what the government is encouraging - fostering the skills and talents alive in our schools and communities. They recognise that young people are ready and willing to support others when they are given the chance."
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