A GROUND-BREAKING anti-bullying play is to tour Tameside schools to raise awareness of diversity and discrimination.
Tameside Council’s Community Safety Partnership is funding the Out/LOUD events in secondary schools to help tackle homophobia.
The initiative comes during National Hate Crime Awareness week.
Hive North’s performance and workshop has been seen by more than 50,000 young people and praised by teachers, pupils and Ofsted for countering hate crime.
In a report after visiting a school that received the play, the school inspectors said: “The values, ethos and policies of the school in regard to homophobic bullying are very well reinforced.”
Several schools are booked on this month’s tour (November) but there is still time for others to get involved, or arrange performances at a later date, by contacting Artistic Director Adam Zane.
Cllr Allison Gwynne, Tameside Council’s Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Hive North’s play and workshop is an effective and proven way to engage with young people and spread awareness and understanding of the terrible effects of homophobic bullying.
“The performances and education will help empower our young people to recognise and report hate crime and help us eradicate such appalling abuse in Tameside.”
Actor and theatre company patron Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, said: “It takes courage to address this issue, to take on the homophobia, to acknowledge that this kind of bullying exists and remains relatively unchallenged as opposed to all other forms.
“If we sow the seeds now in a few years homophobia could be as unacceptable as racism in our schools and in our streets.”
The 30-minute play is followed by a workshop that discusses homophobia, transphobia and biphobia discrimination and language, as well as cyber-bullying and hate crime and how to report it.
The play is also designed to empower young LGBT people by celebrating diversity and role models.
It is based on real interviews with young people in Greater Manchester and is updated annually to give a true reflection of their thoughts and experiences.
Evaluation shows the play has an immediate impact on young people.
Before seeing it, 21percent would challenge or report homophobia or homophobic bullying in schools, but afterwards 93% of pupils would challenge or report it.
One teacher called it: “The best theatre-in-education I have seen. It was very well targeted and got the message across.”
Another added: “The actors were really skilled in engaging with the students … so much more beneficial than a classroom session.”
One pupil said “It really changes people’s attitudes towards homophobic language”, while another commented: “My friend saw the show this morning and she said, you go in one person, and you come out somebody different.”
To book Out/LOUD into your school, email firstname.lastname@example.org