- Manchester high schools reported more than 600 incidents of homophobic and transphobic bullying since 2010.
- Incidents are rising dramatically and have doubled from 76 in 2012-13 to 160 in 2014-15 - but nearly half of schools refuse to disclose information.
High schools in Manchester reported nearly 700 incidents of homophobic and transphobic bullying over the last six years, a report released by prominent gay rights campaigner John Leech, has revealed.
The former Manchester MP of ten years submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) enquiry to every high school in the city and has said it is "depressingly clear" that homophobic and transphobic bullying is here to stay.
Of the 42 high schools in Manchester, 25 responded with figures uncovering a worrying trend. Incidents have doubled in the last two years, from 76 in 2012-13 to a staggering 160 in 2015-16. That is up significantly from just 8 in 2010-11.
Reports of bullying ranged from name-calling to physical assault.
John Leech, who led the successful campaign to pardon war hero Alan Turing, said: "Bullying of any kind is completely unacceptable but to still have homophobia and transphobia rife in Manchester's schools is deplorable.
"I have fought for LGBTQ+ rights my whole life and these numbers are really, really upsetting to see."
John Leech is no stranger to the LGBTQ+ community; he designed the Bill and led the campaign to pardon Alan Turing, whom he said was a "hero", and whose conviction for homosexuality he slammed as "utterly disgusting and ultimately just embarrassing". He went on to secure the pardon for the 50,000+ other men convicted of similar offences and led the campaign to outlaw homophobic chanting at football matches.
Now Mr Leech has turned his attention to what appears to be a concerning spike and consistent rise in teenage bullying.
The information only covers until January 2017 but there were already 134 incidents, making it set to be the worst year yet. In total there were 666 reported incidents of homophobic and transphobic bullying in Manchester's high schools from 2010-17.
But that doesn't cover the full story. 17 schools either refused to answer the FOI Request or reported zero incidents - something Mr Leech says is a sign schools may be too worried to come forward with the real numbers: "We have to be realistic about the issue here and sweeping it under the carpet helps no one."
In an emotional speech at the Liberal Democrats conference in Bournemouth, the former MP added: "We have absolutely no right to claim we live in a decent society when this kind of behaviour is still rife in our schools."
Mr Leech pledged to work with schools, LGBTQ+ groups and local communities to further promote equal rights and said that he would commit himself and his party to "virtually anything" to tackle the growing problem in Manchester’s schools.