Socialist Party stall at Bristol Pride, 13.7.13

Socialist Party stall at Bristol Pride, 13.7.13   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Campaigning against anti-LGBT bullying in schools

Sheila Caffrey

Bristol Pride was held on a very sunny Saturday 13th July and had a very carnival feeling to it with music and drinking in the sunshine.

But that doesn’t mean that people weren’t up for serious political discussion. We set up a stall outside the entrance, campaigning against homophobic bullying in schools, and had an excellent response.

It’s a campaign that has been taken up by many pressure groups, such as Stonewall, and LGBT charities, but the difference with our leaflets and petitions were the conclusions we drew.

We began by raising questions such as: Why is ‘gay’ still one of the most popular insults in schools? Why is sexuality seen as an appropriate thing to comment on and bully about? We then widened it onto other things in society, such as the horrendous and tragic death of a trans teacher this year who, although fully supported by children, parents and staff at her C of E school, was unmercifully bullied by national tabloids which led her to ending her life.

This led to discussing the recent stunting of Sex and Relationships education in schools and, although some local authorities provide good resources to support staff, many don’t.


Moreover, with the recent academy and free schools agenda this has been withdrawn further, with many schools opting to just teach about marriage and heterosexual relationships.

Not only does this encourage homophobic ideas, it also leaves many pupils, at the most formative years of their lives, isolated, vulnerable and without support.

Bristol Pride, 13.7.13

Bristol Pride, 13.7.13   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Staff and pupils are more protected and supported within a network of local authority state schools, which allows a full curriculum to be taught.

The LGBT community must unite with other oppressed sections of society, as well as school staff trade unions, parents and anti-privatisation campaigners to fight for this in schools as well as wider in society to bring an end to homophobic prejudice.

A wide range of people were interested, from teachers and teenagers to those there to enjoy the music and celebrate! Although we only did just over an hour of campaigning due to the heat, we sold 13 copies of the Socialist and raised over £12 for the campaign.

Many people said they would be interested in supporting the campaign further and provided contact details so we’re hoping to follow this up with a meeting.

As socialists who believe in changing society, it is vital that we participate in these events, not only to raise our political ideas, but also to show our opposition to all forms of prejudice and discrimination and run campaigns which make a difference to people’s lives now as well as in the socialist future.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 15 July 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.