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Tackling homophobic bullying in Hull
Still from the film FIT
The film FIT is produced by the gay rights group Stonewall

Students in Hull have been learning about tackling homophobic bullying.

Secondary schools across the city have held classes with the screening of a specially filmed drama.

Pupils had a chance to discuss the issues raised in the film with its writer and director.

The initiative comes after a survey by the gay rights charity Stonewall reported that 65% of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils had suffered some sort of homophobic bullying.

Clare Daybell is responsible for promoting equal rights in Hull's schools.

She said that the classes are an attempt to combat negative attitudes towards gay people:

"I think nationally what research shows is that there is a problem with the use of homophobic language across the country. So, the use of the word gay to describe people's trainers or something which isn't very good. And that leads on to homophobic bullying."

Rikki Beadle-Blair is the writer/director behind the film, titled FIT.

Rikki Beadle-Blair
Rikki Beadle-Blair has visited schools across the country to discuss his film

He said one of the aims is to challenge students' preconceptions of homosexuality:

"It's interesting to watch them discovering that stereotypes aren't necessarily as they first expected. The boy who plays football might like other boys. Or somebody who is bullying someone might be bullied by somebody else in their other life at home."

He continued: "People who have been very homophobic have said 'this session has changed my mind and this film has made me think.' We've had that a lot. So we've had a very strong reaction."

Mr Beadle-Blair feels that some schools are reluctant to engage in the subject due to the controversy it can create.

He said that the legacy of legislation, such as Clause 28: a 1988 law that barred schools from promoting homosexuality, still "casts a massive shadow over teachers, even though it was repealed years ago".

Duncan Macinnes

Despite some reluctance he feels that change is happening:

"It saddens me that some schools think it's really not their business to educate people in how to function in the wider world and how to treat each other nicely. But what heartens me is that any school is thinking about this now, because none of them were when I was a kid."

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