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Nurses are ideally placed to help pupils harassed because of their sexuality, says Jennifer Trueland
Often the first time that homophobic bullying comes to light in a school is when a distressed pupil turns up in the school nurse's office.
Sometimes a teacher will have made the referral, concerned that the pupil is listless, or his or her work has deteriorated. In some cases the pupil seeks help for a sore stomach or other physical symptom.
How the nurse responds depends on the young person, says Jessica Streeting, a senior school nurse in London. 'The first conversation is important - it could be the first time that they are able to express things that have been bottled up.'
The boy or girl may have endured months of harassment such as name-calling, kicks, shoves, punches, nasty texts or being shunned.
'Sometimes young people want me to go with them to a teacher to tell them what is going on,' says Ms Streeting. 'There may be a need for referrals for sexual health support, or to the child and adolescent mental health services. It is important to make it clear to the child that it is not their problem and it is not their fault. They have done nothing wrong.'
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Stonewall is the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity.