Homophobic Bullying (Schools)
Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South, Conservative)
My hon. Friend makes an important point and brings considerable experience as a teacher to the debate. The analogy with racist bullying is powerful. It goes back to my opening remarks about why we need a specific policy on homophobic bullying. No one would dare to argue now that we did not need a specific policy to tackle racist bullying; the same can be said for homophobic and transphobic bullying. His point about the reflection of wider social norms is important. Teachers cannot exist in isolation; they are part of the broader community. Tacking such bullying requires everyone—parents, teachers and everyone in society—to challenge it and say that it is not right and cannot be allowed.
Sport has an important role to play. Rightly, there are lots of campaigns to stop racist abuse on the terraces at football games, and we have seen some of the controversy with Euro 2012 at the moment. We do not hear as much about homophobic chants at grounds. If young people go to football, they will pick up on it and think that it is acceptable, so this is not only about schools; there is a broader challenge to society to say that homophobia is not acceptable, because not doing so creates the breading ground for such sentiments.
I will conclude my remarks now, because I want to give the Minister enough time to respond. I hope that by securing the debate today, I have helped to give the issue the publicity that it deserves and that more schools will take steps to address bullying, which blights far too many young lives.