Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Irish Times: Plan to tackle bullying of gays

29.7.8; Alison Healy

A RECOMMENDATION that the Department of Education take a lead role in tackling the bullying of gay and lesbian students has been welcomed by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen).

The National Economic and Social Forum’s fifth periodic report published yesterday noted “with concern” continuing homophobic bullying in many schools.

Eoin Collins of Glen said action must be taken to make schools safe learning environments for all.

“This is a significant area of concern, given that a Department of Education and Science-funded study in 2006 showed that 79 per cent of teachers were aware of homophobic bullying in their schools, but the overwhelming majority of schools have no policies in place to tackle this issue,” he said.

The report highlighted progress made on lesbian and gay matters in recent years, but expressed concern about issues such as the lack of specific services for older people and the slow progress on funding gay and lesbian groups on community development issues.

Mr Collins said the Government’s commitment to enacting civil partnership legislation for same-sex couples would help to resolve many difficulties.

The report highlighted research that pointed to the business benefits in supporting equality. It said the Department of Enterprise should draw up a strategy to attract and encourage creative talent and build on the country’s reputation for openness and diversity.

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