The homophobic bullying and human rights project was conceived, carried out and managed by young people (16-25 yrs old). The main aim of the project was to empower a group of young volunteers to influence policy and practice around the issue of homophobic bullying in schools using human rights values. Through youth led evidence based research and policy recommendations the project allowed the youth voice to be heard at the policy table.
Promoting fundamental human rights values (Fairness, Respect, Equality and Dignity1) and the inclusion of young people from a diverse range of backgrounds2 were two principles crucial to the unique methodology of the project. Our initial belief, which was evidenced by the research, was that homophobic bullying is an issue that affects most young people directly or indirectly, and measures that tackle the issue should not focus narrowly on one particular group but incorporate the wider ‘community’. Consequently it was also important for the project to engage with the wider national debate on community cohesion3, which for the most part has been fairly exclusive of young people and those who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual (LGB). Homophobic bullying has a larger impact on LGB people than ‘straight’ people – at any age – and promoting understanding and good relations between these young people, and other young people and wider society, was one of the main goals of the project.