LONDON, September 15, 2011 ( – Children as young as three years old are being recorded in a government database as “racist” or “homophobic” for using words that are construed by teachers as politically incorrect.

In 2008-9, 29,659 incidents were reported relating to children as young as nursery-school age, who are monitored under the Labor government’s “hate speech” regulations, according to figures obtained by the Manifesto Club, a civil liberties organization.

Incidents recorded included a student calling a fellow student a “broccoli head,” which was deemed racist, and another “homophobic” dispute between primary school children who called each other “gay” and “lesbian.” Another student was deemed homophobic for telling a teacher that an assignment was “gay.”


About 95% of reported incidents involved name-calling alone, without any physical contact or violence.

In their report on the numbers, the Manifesto Club demanded that the “hate speech” reporting regulations be repealed, saying that the policies, “trivialise the real problems of racism and homophobia, and do nothing for the noble goal of equality.”

“There is a world of difference between racist abuse and primary school playground spats – blurring this difference does nothing for equality.”

A total of 34,000 children, in the words of a Daily Mail report, were “effectively classed as bigots because of anti-bullying rules.” The reports, which schools are forced to file with government education officials, are maintained when children move up grades or transfer schools, and could theoretically be accessed by a future employer or university.

According to the Daily Mail, the Department of Education responded to the report saying, “Parents expect that heads take a very tough line on any poor behaviour and stamp out bullying – that’s why we’re toughening up teachers’ disciplinary powers.

“It is down to schools themselves to exercise their own common sense and professional judgment about the best way of taking on bullies.”

“Children need space to play and to learn the meaning of words, without being reported to the local education authority,” said the Manifesto Club report. “These policies are an inappropriate intervention into playground life, and undermine teachers’ ability to set a moral example to children and to teach them right from wrong.”

Read the Manifesto Club report here.