Today, The Rainbow Project, in partnership with the Minister for Education, Caitriona Ruane MLA and our colleagues in Cara-Friend, are highlighting Shimna Integrated College as a model of good practice from which other schools can learn how to approach issues of sexual orientation and tackle homophobic bullying.
We are also launching our information resource on homophobic bullying for teachers, entitled: ‘Homophobic Bullying – A Teacher’s Guide.’ It contains definitions of homophobic bullying, how it affects young people, how teachers should intervene when they witness a homophobic incident or hear homophobic language
Shimna, under the leadership of Principal Kevin Lambe, actively promotes equality for every child regardless of their sexual orientation; it takes a comprehensive approach to homophobic bullying and is the first school in Northern Ireland to have a Gay/Straight Alliance for its pupils.
Not only does Shimna Integrated College deserve praise for their approach to diversity and the protection of all young people but there are many schools in Northern Ireland that need to learn that the promotion of equality is not contrary to the values and ethos of a school community but is, in fact, a necessity.
Education Equality Officer, Gavin Boyd said:
‘Homophobic bullying is a serious and prevalent problem across schools in Northern Ireland. It is not frequently discussed in schools and many teachers are unsure of how or even if, they should intervene when they witness homophobic bullying. To combat this, The Rainbow Project in conjunction with Cara-Friend have created the Education Equality Project which seeks to help schools and teachers equip themselves to tackle homophobic bullying and to make their school a place where all students can feel welcome and safe, regardless of their sexual orientation.
‘There are young people, teachers and principals in schools all over Northern Ireland who want to make sure that their school is a safe and welcoming place for everyone but perhaps they don’t know how to achieve this or if they will have support in tackling homophobic bullying.
‘We want people to know that support is available from The Rainbow Project and Cara-Friend. We offer training and resources for teachers to give them the knowledge and confidence they need to tackle homophobic bullying when they witness it.
‘We thank Shimna Integrated College for their excellent and continuing work in tackling homophobic bullying and we also deeply thank the Minister for Education, Caitriona Ruane MLA, not only for helping us highlight the issue of homophobic bullying and the good work done by Shimna Integrated College, but for her tireless support for equality in all its diverse forms, particularly her support for young LGB&T people.’