A CAMPAIGN to tackle homophobic language in Swindon schools has been launched this week after a grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The ZeeTee Campaign has already been brought to schools in Wiltshire, and is being rolled out across secondary schools in the town after a grant of £11,775, beginning with Dorcan Academy this week.
The campaign brings a specially made video of young people discussing how it feels to be gay and the impact that homophobic language can have on their lives.
It is an 18-minute presentation benefiting an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 pupils, which includes the story of a man who took his own life after an incident on social media.
They also distribute ‘Respecting Difference’ wristbands to children at the schools to raise awareness of the issues.
PC Sandra Higgins-Hughes has been leading the assemblies in Dorcan Academy this week.
“They have done the campaign in all of Wiltshire schools, so they needed to get in to Swindon schools as well to spread the message,” she said.
“The fund has allowed them to get into all secondary schools and some primary schools in Swindon.
“The whole campaign is around zero tolerance around the wording of ‘gay’ and its homophobic connotations, which can harm people’s thought processes.
“By using the word ‘gay’, people who are going through the process of coming out can be quite harmed by it.
“Attitudes are changing but I think it is because of campaigns like this. People are still quite flippant sometimes with their terminology.
“The stats for people self harming as a result of homophobic attitudes are quite high, they are alarming.”
Research into homophobic bullying as part of the project has shown that 56 per cent of the demographic self harm, and almost 25 per cent attempt suicide.
Thirty-two per cent say they decide not to go on to college or university as a result of their negative experience at school.
“Some of these people wanted to put something back into schools because there was nothing there for them when they were coming through,” added PC Higgins-Hughes.
“Support networks are there and there are places to turn.
“It has got such good feedback already, and we have only done Dorcan Academy so far.
“Even by doing it there the impact has been massive.
“We need to still be aware that there are people out there who need support, and we can reach out to them.
“We have got the funding to do all the secondary schools, and we are doing as many of them as we can. Some primaries have also got back to us, and we will look to continue the presentations into the autumn term.”
For more information and to watch the video visit www.sparksite.co.uk.