Category Archives: hidden barriers

Gay students get death threats

More than 150,000 students in the UK have been bullied at secondary school because they are gay, a new survey found.

Over two thirds of lesbian and gay pupils have been victimised by homophobic bullying, with abuse ranging from verbal abuse to violence to death threats at the hands of students and staff alike. Of those, 92 per cent (143,000) have experienced verbal bullying, 41 per cent (64,000) physical bullying and 17 per cent (26,000) death threats.

The study also discovered that that half of teachers did not intervene when students used homophobic language, using derogatory labels like “dyke”, “queer” or “rug muncher”.

Catherine, 13, from a single sex independent school (South East) explained that “ teachers join in on the joke’.

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said “These deeply disturbing figures should serve as a wake-up call to everyone working in education.”

“This is a damning legacy of Section 28, which deterred schools from tackling anti-gay bullying for so long. This remains one of the few sorts of bullying about which too many schools still take no action. It blights the lives not just of gay children but of thousands of pupils perceived to be lesbian or gay too.”

The Stonewall survey polled 1,145 young people and found that 7/10 of those who have experienced homophobic bullying said it has adversely affected their school work. Half of those bullied say they have missed school as a result.

Ali, 17, from a secondary school in London said, “On three occasions I’ve been assaulted and had to go to hospital to be examined and get the police involved”.

‘People call me ‘gay’ everyday, sometimes people kick me and push me, they shut me out of games during school gym and they steal my belongings, “ said James, 17, from a secondary school in the South West.

Stonewall’s survey is the largest poll of young gay people ever conducted in the UK.

This story was first published on

TUC lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender annual conference

Several hundred lesbian and gay workers are gathering in central London over the next two days to debate a series of key equality issues at the annual TUC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender conference.

Delegates attending the event at the TUC’s Congress House HQ will hear speeches from TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, Commission for Equality and Human Rights Chair Trevor Phillips and MP Angela Eagle.

Motions to be discussed by delegates include the portrayal of lesbian and gay people in the media, the monitoring of sexuality in the workplace and the potential conflict between religious belief and sexual orientation.

Addressing the conference today (Thursday), TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come in the past decade. Ten years ago, gay rights were seen as a minority pursuit – now they’re part of the political mainstream. Ten years ago, the debate was about Section 28 – now we celebrate civil partnerships. And ten years ago, discrimination against the gay community in the provision of goods and services was quite legal – now, at long last, it has been outlawed.

‘But as we celebrate that progress, we cannot afford to relax our guard. This is not the time for us to take of eye of the ball. Despite all the legal gains – despite our largely liberal, tolerant society – the ugly scar of homophobia continues to blight the lives of so many people in your community. The young student bullied at college, the lesbian taunted about her sexuality, the gay couple hounded from their home.

‘However welcome they may be, changes on the statute book count for little unless they are matched by a corresponding change in attitudes. Think about our workplaces. We know from our own research that four in ten LGBT workers have faced abuse at work because of their sexuality.

‘And let’s not forget the challenges faced by LGBT people worldwide. From the casual murder of gay men in Jamaica to state-sponsored persecution in Iran, from the alarming rise in homophobia in Russia to the death squads of Iraq, members of your community are under attack as never before. None of us can afford to turn a blind eye – an injury to one is an injury to all. But where there is discrimination, unions will seek to remove it. Where there is inequality, we will tackle it. And where there is injustice, we will wage war on it.’

Wimbledon pays women equally – but will Gordon Brown?

The Fawcett Society today issued a challenge to the new prime minister to be the first to ensure that women and men in the UK are equally rewarded for their work.

Although equal pay legislation has been in force for more than 30 years, there’s still a pay gap women working full-time still earn on average 17% less per hour than men working full-time, and women working part-time earn 38% less.

Dr Katherine Rake said: “Women tennis players are finally enjoying equal pay at Wimbledon – it’s time for Gordon Brown to give all women a sporting chance and finally end the pay gap. The ball’s in his court.”

Practical steps to end the pay gapAs the leading campaign for equality between women and men, Fawcett has set out the practical measures that Government could take to end the pay gap. These include:

  • Safeguards: Compulsory pay audits for all organisations
  • Bold ambitions: The Government to set dates for finally closing the pay gap
  • Tackle long hours: Full sign-up to the EU’s Working Time Directive and other steps to tackle our long hours working culture, which limits the ability of women with caring responsibilities to compete on an equal basis with men.
  • Include men: Government and employers to encourage men – not just women – to engage with work-life balance issues.
  • New rights: a right to work flexibly for all employees, unless there is a strong business case against it

Remploy HR director hits back at claims she should resign over her handling of the factory closure announcements

Remploy’s HR director has hit back at union jibes that she should resign over the way her team handled the announcement of factory closures.

Last week the GMB union, which represents the majority of workers at Remploy, accused the HR team of mismanaging the announcement by using DVDs and failing to answer questions.

About 2,500 mainly disabled staff will be affected when 32 manufacturing sites are closed and 11 are merged with others. But Anne Jessopp, executive director of HR at Remploy, said the union’s reaction was “very disappointing”.

“We would rather the union wasn’t making these kinds of comments, but it’s our job to get on with things,” she said.

Jessopp rejected the GMB’s accusations of mismanagement by the HR team.

“We communicated with employees using [sign language] DVDs, on-site signers, face-to-face, and with leaflets and letters,” she told Personnel Today. “Then we took staff into smaller groups and answered any questions they had.”

She said professional counsellors were on hand to provide support, as well as senior managers, and a staff helpline had been set up.

Jessopp guaranteed there would be no compulsory redundancies among disabled staff, who would have the option to work for local employers on their existing terms and conditions.

Last week the GMB voted for industrial action at Remploy’s factories. Jessopp described the decision as “premature”, and said it would have a detrimental effect on the organisation’s customers. A meeting between management and the union consortium is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday).

Former Remploy HR director hits out

The decision to close factories has been criticised by Remploy’s former HR director Ray Fletcher. In a letter to the Guardian last week, Fletcher said the closure would “narrow the options” open to disabled people who want to enter the workplace.

Fletcher is now HR director at the Unite ‘super-union’ – which also represents Remploy workers – so perhaps should declare a vested interest.

This story was first published in Personnel Today