Although every situation will be slightly different there are some overarching points to remember when responding to and challenging homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
• Do describe language and behaviour specifically and check if young people understand what they are saying.
‘I’m wondering why you are calling something rubbish ‘gay’? Do you know what it means
to be homophobic?’
• Do explain clearly why you are challenging young people if they do not know what they are saying or did not mean anything offensive by their language.
‘I understand that you didn’t mean anything by it but it’s really important that I let you know that it sounds homophobic and could really hurt some of the people who hear it.’
• Do make sure that your language is clear and unambiguous. Don’t be afraid to name homophobia, biphobia or transphobia.
‘What you just said there was really homophobic.’
• Do always make clear that you are taking the situation seriously.
‘That’s totally unacceptable and I’m going to take what you’ve said very seriously.’
• Do make your organisations position very clear so that you do not look as if you are overreacting in isolated in your opinion
‘I find what you’ve said totally unacceptable and so would any other member of staff in this school.’
• Do focus on the effects of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
‘When you say cruel things like that you can really hurt people.’
Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic attitudes can be firmly embedded and changing these attitudes can take a long time. The most effective way of doing this is not only through reactive individual discussion, but through proactive activities around which make it clear that prejudice based behaviour is unacceptable and that LGBT young people can expect to be supported and included.
Examples of proactive steps that aim to reduce inequality include: educational workshops or lessons for young people, posters that raise awareness of key messages and LGBT inclusion within resources and key policies.