Sheffield City Council has received national recognition for the fourth year in a row for its collaborative work to tackle homophobic bullying throughout the city.

Gay equality charity Stonewall has positioned the council at number seven in the Education Equality Index 2014, published today. The Index lists the Top 10 local authorities in Britain. The ranking is a boost on last year’s score when Sheffield secured the eight position.

Stonewall recognised the work the council has been carrying out with its partners to set up a coordinating group to help key partners take a stronger and more collaborative approach to ensuring Sheffield is a welcoming and all-inclusive place to live for people from the lesbian and gay community.

The group, set up in November 2013, includes representatives from Sheffield’s universities, colleges, youth services and Children and Young People’s services. One of their key objectives is to work with schools to stamp out bullying against gay and lesbian youngsters.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families at Sheffield City Council, said:

“I am thrilled Sheffield has been recognised in the Stonewall Top 10. Congratulations to the co-ordinating group and all the schools involved. This helps send a strong message out – that homophobic bullying is not welcome in Sheffield or in any of our schools.

“I passionately believe no one has the right to bully anyone else and especially not over their sexuality. I am proud Sheffield has been named as one of the best for tackling this hurtful, intimidating and totally unnecessary behaviour. Homophobic bullying has a profound effect on young people’s lives and it must be stamped out.”

Stonewall’s Education Equality Index measures practice and policy at all of the participating local authorities. Entries were received from 45 local authorities to the 2014 Index, the most competitive index to date.

The 2014 Stonewall Top 10 local authorities list was announced at the Stonewall Education for All Conference at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London today (Friday 4 July).
Councillor Neale Gibson, chair of the coordination group, added:

“Homophobic bullying is an increasing problem in schools and communities with between 30 and 50 per cent of lesbian or gay young people more at risk of bullying. We are working collaboratively across the board to show that this kind of behaviour will not be accepted and to support the general LGBT community in Sheffield. It’s great to see our efforts in the post-16 and higher education sector, as well as the wider LGBT community, rewarded by Stonewall.”

Sheffield City Council has been a Stonewall Education Champion since 2009. In 2011 Stonewall launched its Equality Index and Sheffield City Council is one of only four local authorities which has consistently been in its Top 10 listing.

The city also led the way in March 2014 when Kyle Emerson and Richie Wood, of Hillsborough in Sheffield, said ‘I do’ in one of the country’s first same-sex marriages at Sheffield Town Hall. Sheffield was one of the first in the country to perform same sex marriages after the Marriage Bill received Royal Assent in July 2013, officially making it law.

Luke Tryl, Stonewall Head of Education, said:

“Sheffield City Council deserves enormous congratulations on their performance in this year’s Stonewall Education Equality Index. Homophobic bullying still has a detrimental impact on the attendance, achievement and life chances of young people. It’s fantastic to see the work of our Top 10 highlighted in the index, inspiring others to take action to provide teachers with the tools they need to make schools a safe and supportive place to help all young people to achieve their full potential.”