Society’s attitude towards same-sex relationships is still extremely variable. In a laudable attempt to inform and educate children about the infinite variety (within reason) of types of relationship, to bring understanding and tolerance to those who do not fall into what is viewed as “conventional” as far as adult relationships are concerned, schools are attempting to conform to the Equality Act by teaching children to be more accepting and that people on the fringes of society that are frequently marginalised such as the disabled, other races, the elderly and members of the LGBT community have every right to be treated fairly. More than one school has been faced with irate parents, who adhere to various faiths, which do not accept any alternative to conventional marriage and particularly consider those from the LGBT community unacceptable. A representative of Haredi Jews (a term applied to a broad spectrum of Othodox Jews) stated that Haredi Jews would leave the UK if faith schools were forced to teach LGBT issues such as gender re-assignment and same-sex marriage. Devout Christians and Muslims frequently share the same views and vigorously resist the exposure of their children to such issues.
Such unreasonable prejudices can be found from the top to the bottom of society; from MP Sir David Amess who is a fervent supporter of animal rights, however he strongly disapproves of LGBT rights to the individuals who stand on the football terraces and chant homophobic insults at players, often regardless of whether the player is gay or not.
Sport is a great leveller; people from all walks of life comprise the fan base of every sport, of all places the field of sport should be completely focused on ability and nothing else. There has been considerable progress towards eliminating racism in sport but very little advancement in eradicating homophobia. John Fashanu’s daughter, Amal Fashanu, is launching a campaign with her father to launch a foundation, Justin Fashanu’s name, aimed at eliminating racial and homophobic abuse in football. Justin Fashanu, the only premiership footballer to come out during the course of his career, faced appalling treatment following his revelation but his brother John was also subject to vicious insults and abuse from the terraces despite the fact he was not gay. Graham Le Saux, a married man with a family, was subject to similarly unfounded homophobic chanting, fuelled by Robbie Fowler. Amal hopes to carry out a programme within schools to educate youngsters about what happened to her family and the toxic effect of prejudice.
Gareth Thomas, the rugby international who came out during his playing career, has pioneered a Code of Conduct (which Giambrone had the privilege to draft through Gay Lawyers) to outlaw homophobia within the grounds to be adopted by all football clubs. He has also been instrumental in encouraging Damian Collins to support a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Football Offences Act to include homophobia.
The international study on homophobia in sport, “Out on the Fields”, found that 80% of the respondents had witnessed homophobia and 54% of LGBT sportsmen and women had been on the receiving end of homophobia and interestingly 28% of straight sportsmen had also been targeted. The homophobia took the form of verbal slurs, bullying, verbal threats and physical attacks.
Attitudes will never change without informed discussion and children need to be educated as to what is and is not acceptable with regard to prejudicial behaviour of any type. All the time adherents of certain faiths, who themselves have the right to the expression of faith their defended and supported by Society, attempt to prevent the education of their children on the acceptance of all members of society there will be little progress made.