North Herts members of LGBT community speak out after Stonewall commends county on tackling intolerance and bullying in schools

Jane Fae.

Jane Fae. - Credit: Archant

After charity Stonewall ranked Herts in the top five in their index of the best local authorities dealing with homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools, two members of the LGBT community have spoken out about the report.

Connor Skelsey

Connor Skelsey - Credit: Archant

The Education Equality Index ranks local authorities to showcase how well they are celebrating difference and supporting LGBT young people.

The top 10 results were released by Stonewall last week, and places Hertfordshire County Council and education provider Herts for Learning in fifth place.

The report said: “Herts for Learning/Hertfordshire County Council provide schools with an extensive range of training opportunities and online resources to prevent and tackle homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.

In light of the Stonewall findings, Herts-based Connor Skelsey, 18, told the Crow about his experience coming out as gay in his school days.

He said: “I’m extremely pleased something is being done to tackle this type of bullying in schools.

“My mainstream school was useless, my Year 7 tutor even said to me ‘are you sure you’ve done the right thing coming out.’

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“I didn’t like football or rugby so I never went to PE lessons.

“My mum complained and I said I wanted to do trampolining and netball with the girls, and the school even suggested I get changed in the girls changing rooms to avoid making any guys feel awkward,

“However my next school in Letchworth was absolutely amazing – they supported me so much, and tackled bullying so well.

“I’m really glad this type of support has picked up!

“I think the authorities and schooling need to continue to deliver these results in order to drive a safe community for everyone to live in.”

Jane Fae is a transgender woman from North Herts and campaigner for LGBT rights.

She told the Crow: “The problem begins when teachers brush bullying under the carpet and say there’s no problem here.

“And when you leave children to sort it out for themselves they don’t, and they think it’s OK to be hateful to others.

“I know of children who have been bullied, not for being trans themselves but for having a trans parent, and they moved to a school with a zero tolerance policy on bullying and it stopped.

“If there is a good bullying policy in place it pays dividends to the child’s self esteem, and it should be the case everywhere.

“Schools need to look into why there is bullying, and why children see anything ‘different’ as a problem.

“I have come across some good resources in Herts, there are schools doing a good job so you can see why they have scored highly and it’s good to see there are things being done to support young people going through these experiences.”

Cambridgeshire came fourth in the index, and was commended for its collaboration with The Kite Trust, Cambs’ leading organisation working with LGBT young people, as well as its use of digital engagement.

You can read Stonewall’s report in full here