Combatting homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools through family engagement

Hafford-Letchfield, Trish and Cocker, Christine and Ryan, Peter and Martin, Mary and Scott, Rosalind and Carr, Sarah; Dunk-West, Priscilla and Hafford-Letchfield, Trish, eds. (2018) Combatting homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools through family engagement. In: Sexuality, Sexual and Gender Identities and Intimacy Research in Social Work and Social Care. Routledge, London, New York. ISBN 9780367591793

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This chapter draws on findings from a European project, 'Rights through alliances: Innovating and networking both within homes and schools' (RAINBOW-HAS), conducted during 2013–2015. RAINBOW-HAS involved collaboration between six European Union countries to analyse and improve the rights of children, young people and their families experiencing bullying in relation to sexual and gender identities in educational settings (Arateko, 2015). We share some of the key findings emerging from a review of the education policy literature on homophobic and transphobic bullying in the UK, and then use this to foreground a practice example led by the English project team which developed and piloted a family and student led intervention within two secondary schools aimed at preventing homophobic and transphobic bullying. We reflect on the potential of such an intervention as a model for community engagement with secondary schools and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people and their families. Finally, we discuss the implications for social work where there is tendency for silence on LGBT issues more broadly and conclude with some suggestions for how social workers can be more active in their contribution to young people's well-being in education through LGBT rights-based advocacy.