TEACHERS allegedly told bullied children to act “less gay” if they want to end their torment.
In a damning report by Essex County Council, pupils revealed they had been accused of making themselves a target for bullies by choosing to behave or look differently.
As well as criticising their supposed sexuality, teachers reportedly told youngsters to “wear their hair differently” if they wanted to avoid trouble.
The comments have been met with outrage by anti-bullying campaigners and gay and lesbian support groups across the county.
Jordan Newell, 27, the Colchester Labour Party chairman and a member of the Labour Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Rights, said: “I am incredibly shocked at this report.
“It is incredibly stark and paints a picture that teachers are holding up their hands and not defending pupils who are expressing their difference and they are failing to defend some pretty basic principles in terms of bullying and anti-bullying.
“I think the report shows a complete lack of understanding of the issue and on how to tackle bullies.”
Actress Kierston Wareing, 33, from Leigh, recently spoke about being bullied at school. She said: “You can get bullied for anything, whether it is because you are too fat, too thin, too pretty or too ugly.
“You should be able to be your own person.
“There is no excuse for bullying and teachers should put a stop to it.”
The pupils spoke out at a meeting for more than 250 children and teachers from schools across the county, hosted by the county council, to tackle issues affecting youngsters.
As well as being accused of being insensitive by pupils, teachers also admitted they had received “very little”
training in how to deal with bullies.
A 14-year-old pupil at Chase High School in Westcliff, who did not want to be named, said: “I’ve been bullied, and the teachers didn’t do much about it.
“It’s not that they didn’t want to help. They just didn’t know how.”
A spokesman for charity Beatbullying said pupils needed support from teachers so they could be “free to be who they are”, and Jerry Glazier, Essex general secretary for the National Union of Teachers, labelled the alleged comments “inappropriate”.
The pressure young people face in coming out has been shown in EastEnders where teenager Ben Mitchell plucked up the courage to tell his dad, Phil, who reacted badly to the news.
An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “The council takes bullying very seriously and would hope all teachers are sensible in giving the right advice to pupils.
“The Young Essex Assembly held a conference to allow children to talk in an open and constructive environment about bullying within schools.
“All the information and anecdotal evidence gathered at the event will shape the work of the Young Essex Assembly.
“As a result, it is developing an anti-bullying information pack, which will be given to trainee teachers to help them cope with this serious issue.”