Barnardo’s Positive Identities Service in Elland has launched a faith toolkit to support young LGBTQ people who are being bullied in schools.
The toolkit is a national resource that can be delivered directly by schools and was developed by the Positive Identities Service in Elland, with a grant from the Department for Education and Government Equalities Office.
The stories and views shared in the toolkit will reassure young people and others dealing with these issues that there is a place for LGBTQ people within faith communities.
The Positive Identities service works together with schools, families and the community to provide support, information and education around issues faced by LGBTQ young people in Calderdale. They offer support and advice to families, a weekly youth group for LGBTQ young people and training workshops in schools and community groups.
Manjinder Singh Sidhu, who contributed to the toolkit, said: “What I love about the toolkit is that Barnardo’s is actually working alongside schools, going into schools and talking about faith and sexuality, which are topics generally considered taboo and risky.
“The different ways Barnardo’s is tackling the issue head on in classroom and online settings is profound. Knowing that it will inspire, educate and save the lives of countless LGBTQ young people going through so much hardship in schools brings joy to my heart.”
Marcel Varney, assistant director at Barnardo’s, said: “Although faith and cultural groups have differing views on LGBTQ issues - and within every faith, religious texts can be interpreted differently - we know that they are all keen to tackle bullying and victimisation, wherever this might happen. Faith and culture can also form an important part of our education around values such as diversity, tolerance and respect.
“We don’t expect to change the teachings of any religious or community groups, but we want schools to feel able to tackle homophobic bullying and create an environment where everyone feels respected and safe. And we want our work to create an environment where LGBTQ young people feel this, whatever their culture, race or religion and to know how they can access support within their communities.
“Homophobic bullying is a particularly pernicious form of bullying. It can be targeted at individuals known to be LGBTQ or may be directed at students who are perceived to be different, regardless of their sexual orientation. Homophobic language is widespread in schools.”