Skip to content
  • Video
  • 15 mins
  • Level 1: Introductory

"That's so gay!" Homophobic language and school

Updated Saturday 29th July 2017

How is the word 'gay' used in your school? What negative impact it can have on the pupils' views about homosexuality? Find out with the founder of Inclusion for All, Shaun Dellenty.

Have you heard the word 'gay' used negatively in your school lately? How do you react? Do you have a policy about homophobic language? Do your pupils understand the meaning of the word 'gay' and the impact it can have on their own views about homosexuality? What about those pupils who are or have family/friends who are LGBT? Homophobic bullying is almost endemic in schools and impacts profoundly on young people's well-being and academic attainment. The current Ofsted framework looks explicitly for evidence of how schools will meet the needs of all groups, with a specific emphasis on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender pupils.

What’s in a word?

How is the word 'gay' used in your school? Is it a hushed term?

Legislation is in place to protect LGBTQI individuals from bullying. Do you know what all those initials stand for?

L -  Lesbian: female who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other females

G - Gay: a male who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other males

B - Bisexual: a person who experiences romantic attraction or sexual attraction toward both males and females

T - Transgender: people who experience a mismatch between their gender identity or gender expression and their assigned sex

Q - Questioning: someone who is unsure about their sexual orientation

I - Intersex: an individual in whom genetic, hormonal and physical features that may be thought typical of both male and female co-exist. They may be thought of as being male with female features, female with male features, or may have no clearly defined sexual features

Watch the video below to hear how even the way the word is uttered has implications for those who hear it.

Who is affected by Homophobic bullying?

Who do you think can be affected by homophobia in schools? Pick the responses from this list that you think would apply:

  • Children who declare themselves or who are perceived to be LGBT
  • Other children in the school
  • Staff who declare themselves or who are perceived to be LGBT
  • Other staff members
  • Parents of children who are or are perceived to be LGBT
  • Other parents

In the video below, Shaun shares stories of people affected by homophobic bullying, watch it and then think about your responses to the question above.

Schools and providing a safe environment

Strong leadership is key to tackling this issue and how getting it right can lead to significant whole school improvement, including increased attendance and performance for pupils

When making a judgement on safety and behaviour of a school, OFSTED inspectors will consider:

  • Pupils’ behaviour towards, and their respect for other young people and adults and their freedom from bullying, harassment and discrimination.
  • How well teachers manage the behaviour and expectations of pupils to ensure that all pupils have an equal and fair chance to thrive and learn in an atmosphere of dignity and respect
  • The extent to which leaders and managers have created a positive ethos in the school

How can a school address these issues? Watch Shaun’s suggestions:

How can a school deal with homophobic language?

In this video, Shaun tells us about the initiatives put in place at the school where he works. Write down the ideas he suggests. Is this something that could be done in your school? Who can you talk to (management, peers) to get things started?

It goes beyond homophobia

The word 'gay' has many meanings. Many of those meanings are positive.

Don’t ban the word 'gay' from your school. Teach children how to use it well. Involve the children. In this final video Shaun talks about how teaching kids about LGBTQI people has had positive effects on many aspects that make people different and individual, regardless of religion, ethnicity or country of origin.

Many thanks to Shaun Dellenty for allowing the use of his talk at The Open University for the creation of these resources.

Useful resources

 

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Encouraging book talk in the school library Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

Education & Development 

Encouraging book talk in the school library

As adults we sometimes struggle to justify our feelings about particular books, but children are quite clear about what they like and don't like. It is possible to get children to discuss why they liked or did not like particular books and to encourage them to think more deeply about the books they've read. This free course, Encouraging book talk in the school library, offers ideas and activities to engage pupils in discussing books. It is aimed at librarians, teaching assistants and other adults working with pupils in school libraries.

Free course
4 hrs
What happens when a child is excluded from school? Creative commons image Icon Billy Hathorn under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Education & Development 

What happens when a child is excluded from school?

Nearly four thousand children are excluded from UK schools. So what happens to them?

Article
OU on the BBC: Excluded: Kicked Out of School Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Oliver Groves article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Excluded: Kicked Out of School

What happens to children excluded from their schools? Join us as we go behind the doors of a secondary alternative provision academy.

Article
OU on the BBC: African School - About The Series Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

OU on the BBC: African School - About The Series

Introducing a documentary programme about a school in Africa.

Article
School exclusions in Scotland Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

Education & Development 

School exclusions in Scotland

Jean Kane describes the procedures for school exclusions in Scotland and looks at some of the issues raised

Article
Why is it dangerous when Trump sees people as objects? Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Public domain article icon

Languages 

Why is it dangerous when Trump sees people as objects?

Donald Trump has a habit, argues Jennifer Mercieca, of dehumanizing those he disagrees with - and that's dangerous.

Article
Sylvia Plath and the linguistics of depression Creative commons image Icon John Phelan under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Languages 

Sylvia Plath and the linguistics of depression

Could the type of language people use reveal something about their state of mind? A close reading of Sylvia Plath's journals suggest it might be possible.

Article
Can corpus linguistics help with branding? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: © Julija Sapic | Dreamstime.com article icon

Languages 

Can corpus linguistics help with branding?

Having trouble naming your company? Corpus analysis might be able to help.

Article
Titty or Tatty: What's in a name? Creative commons image Icon Adapted from a Creative Commons work by Neil Piddock under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license article icon

Languages 

Titty or Tatty: What's in a name?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. Severine Hubscher-Davidson explores why texts need to change with the times - and why some things are better left untouched.

Article