Barnardo’s launches new ‘faith toolkit’ to help young people bullied because of their sexuality

Barnardo's Positive Identities Service has launched a ‘faith toolkit’ to support young LGBTQ* people who are being bullied in schools – a first for the leading children’s charity.

The toolkit is a national resource that can be delivered directly by schools, with or without input from Barnardo’s. It was developed with a grant from the Department for Education and Government Equalities Office for the Homophobic Biphopic and Transphobic (HBT) Bullying Grant Programme.  The stories and views shared in the toolkit will reassure young people and others dealing with these issues that there is a place for LGBT people within faith communities.  

Manjinder Singh Sidhu, who contributed to the toolkit, said at the toolkit’s launch in Leeds City Museum last week: "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 LGBT young people going through so much hardship in schools brings joy to my heart."  

Marcel Varney, Assistant Director at Barnardo’s, says: “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 HBT 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.   HBT 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. HBT language is widespread in schools, and the term ‘gay’ may be used in a derogatory sense against for example, boys who apply themselves academically, girls who are good at sports or students with LGBTQ parents.” 

The toolkit and the resources have been trialled and adapted following consultation with young people at Leeds City College and Outwood Grange Academy.  

The following groups have supported the development of the toolkit in various ways including contributing views and stories for inclusion in the toolkit:  

  • All Hallows Church, Leeds
  • British Muslim Youth
  • EACH
  • Equity Partnership
  • Hindu Cultural Society
  • Leicester Cathedral
  • LGBT Humanists
  • Quest
  • Quiliam
  • Sarbat
  • Rainbow Jews
  • Safra Project/UK Black Pride
  • Sinai Synagogue, Leeds
The toolkit will be available in a variety of ways – further information is available from Yasmeen Sharif, Children’s Services Manager on 07785 252603.