New hate crimes data for the United Kingdom shows a shocking number of incidents targeting LGBT people. As I was reading these figures, the need for LGBT-inclusive classes in UK schools has never been more apparent.
The data, released last week, shows police recorded 14,491 crimes committed against people because of their sexual orientation in 2018-19.
Police recorded a further 2,333 offenses against transgender people because of their gender identity.
Every year, the UK government releases police data on hate crimes on the basis of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Offenses are recorded as hate crimes if the victim or witnesses believe the motivation is one of these things because of, for example, slurs shouted during the attack. The term “hate crime” can cover verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, harassment, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property.
This year reported figures were up across the board, something the Home Office says is largely due to improved reporting and recording methods. According to Stonewall UK, only one out of five hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is reported to police.
But despite an increase in reporting, the number of cases that lead to prosecutions has actually fallen.
One way to help reduce the vitriol aimed at LGBT people could be to teach children about inclusion and acceptance from a young age.
But attempts to add more LGBT-inclusive curriculum have caused some parents to pull their children out of school in some cases on faith grounds.
Protests targeted the No Outsiders program, which is taught at a group of schools in Birmingham and encourages children to accept differences in, among other things, families and relationships.
The schools suspended the program in March. When the classes resumed after summer break, the schools faced renewed protests. Some cities with similar lessons, such as Manchester, have faced problems as well. The government issued a set of guidelines to schools dealing with protests, but some teachers told the BBC they still don’t feel they have the help needed.
The UK plans to make “relationship” education compulsory by 2020, which is great news for future generations of LGBT children. But for adults facing intolerance now, the police should send a clear message that hate crimes will not be tolerated and will be investigated.