Wiltshire has been named third best council in Great Britain for its work to increase equality and prevent and tackle homophobic bullying in schools and communities.
The council’s “highly innovative” methods have been recognised by leading national charity Stonewall which has placed Wiltshire third out of 42 authorities for its work in this area.
Stonewall said Wiltshire has taken “great strides forward” in addressing the issues of homophobia. As well as having a strong foundation of inclusive policies and practices, Stonewall highlighted Wiltshire’s successful Zee Tee campaign for zero tolerance of homophobic language in schools as evidence of the good work.
For the third year, Stonewall has produced an Education Equality Index which grades the best performing local authorities at celebrating difference and looking at homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools.
Wiltshire’s Zee Tee campaign was led by young people and was fully supported by Stonewall. The campaign delivers an all-school assembly and invites students to sign the Zee Tee Pledge and receive a wristband to show their support for respecting difference. So far more than 10,000 students have signed the pledge.
Wes Streeting, Stonewall Head of Education said “Wiltshire Council deserves enormous congratulations on securing a top 10 place in Stonewall’s Education Equality Index. Homophobic bullying has a detrimental impact on the attendance, achievement and life chances of young people, so it’s fantastic to see the work of Wiltshire Council highlighted through the Index to inspire others to take action to make schools a safe and supportive place to help all young people to achieve their potential.”
Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove, said: “Stonewall’s research has shown that homophobic bullying has a profound impact on young people’s attainment, achievement and wellbeing. Bullying can blight happiness, knock confidence and impair the capacity of young people to develop and fulfil their potential. For this reason the Coalition Government has made it clear that tackling all forms of bullying, particularly homophobic bullying, is a key priority.”