Bullies use 'gay' taunts to target 10-year-olds in primary school
BOYS as young as 10 are being subjected to homophobic taunts in school calling them "gay and lesbian".
A new survey of almost 2,000 parents suggests the greatest insult to a schoolboy is calling him a "girl, woman, or gay".
It also found young men presumed to be homosexual by their peers are a target for bullying.
Similarly, young men who are open and honest about their feelings are easier targets for homophobic bullying.
In this context, young men keep their feelings, emotions and concerns to themselves.
The survey also found that the majority of parents wanted the issue of homophobia on the curriculum because of widespread bullying in schools.
Three-quarters of parents indicated that they would trust their sons' teachers to deal with sexual orientation and homophobia in the classroom. A minority felt that the schools may not transmit the attitudes and values taught in the home.
The vast majority (93pc) of the 1,915 parents surveyed described themselves as Roman Catholic. The study, entitled 'Gender and Education', was written by Orla McCormack and Jim Gleeson from the University of Limerick's department of education and professional studies.
The researchers visited a sample of 120 schools and asked the male transition-year and fifth-year students to bring home a questionnaire for completion by their parents.
As a follow-up, detailed phone interviews were held with a randomly selected group of 24 parents.
A total of 70pc of parents questioned believed young men felt under pressure to be heterosexual.
Typical comments were: "the fear of being homosexual is a serious worry, both for themselves and how they are perceived by their parents"; and "heroes on television and video games are always strong and heterosexual".
Some parents felt that their children's fears of being labelled homosexual were linked to poor communication skills.
The researchers also reported parental concerns about the professional preparation of teachers for dealing with issues such as sexual orientation and homophobia. Last night general secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation John Carr said that homophobia affected gay and lesbian pupils and their teachers in schools today. He said as a first step, the Government should repeal article 37 (1) of the Employment Equality Act, which allowed for discrimination against teachers whose lifestyle was seen as undermining the religious ethos of the school.