Children being bullied at school over their sexuality are told to be "less gay" by their teachers, a damning report has revealed.
Pupils targeted because of their appearance were allegedly also told to "wear their hair differently" if they wanted to avoid trouble. In the report, published on Tuesday by Essex County Council, pupils from the area said they had been accused of making themselves a target for bullies by opting to look or behave differently to their peers.
One pupil from a school in Westcliff, who did not want to be named, said: "I've been bullied and the teachers didn't do much about it. It's not that they don't want to help, they just don't know how."
The claims were revealed at a conference for more than 250 teachers and pupils. The event, hosted by the county council to tackle issues affecting children, has raised concern over how schools deal with bullying.
A spokesperson from charity Beatbullying said the incident highlight the "absolute need" for better guidance and support for teachers over how to deal with bullying.
"No-one should need to change how they behave, act or look. It's about changing the behaviour of those who bully.
"There is a solution; better guidance for teachers and anti-bullying strategies in schools across the country. It's important to educate both parents and children about bullying too."
The Anti-Bullying Work publication also revealed teachers received "very little" training around bullying issues.
An Essex County Council spokesperson said they took the claims "very seriously".
“The Young Essex Assembly held a conference to allow children to talk in an open and constructive environment about bullying within schools.
“All the information and anecdotal evidence gathered at the event will shape the work of the Young Essex Assembly."
The council added they were currently developing an anti-bullying information pack, which will be given to trainee teachers to "help them cope with this serious issue”.