Does homophobia begin in primary schools?

A primary-school project, which will examine how making fun of unsporty boys can lead to full-blown homophobia, has received national funding.

Jonathan Glazzard, a course leader in primary education at the University of Huddersfield, has received a £10,000 award for a programme he describes as “education for social justice”.

Dr Glazzard’s project will examine the ways in which teachers can best address homophobia in primary schools. He will use the grant money, awarded as part of a National Teaching Fellowship, to learn more about how primary-aged children acquire the attitudes which eventually become entrenched as prejudices.

“A lot of it is to do with the association of gender roles and identities, and the singling out of children who don’t conform to those gender stereotypes – such as boys who don’t want to play sports,” Dr Glazzard said. “It is an unconscious homophobia, but it develops later on.”

Dr Glazzard was presented with the fellowship by the Higher Education Academy, which each year makes 55 awards of £10,000 in order to help recipients pursue academic goals and professional development.

One of Dr Glazzard’s goals is to train student-teachers to visit schools. They will read stories to children which reflect different types of relationships, and work with pupils on projects dealing with inclusion and diversity.

“It is a particularly challenging issue for schools to address,” he said. “It’s about educating children about relationships and gender roles. It is about education for social justice.”

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