Homophobic taunts 'can alter children's career hopes'
Homophobic bullying in school can lead to thousands of children changing their career plans, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has warned.
Ms Morgan said those who were bullied often retreated from school life, causing repercussions in later life as they choose "safety" over "happiness".
She said while bullying had decreased overall, social media provided an "anonymous space for abuse".
But she remained confident that homophobic bullying would be banished.
Speaking at a conference at Brighton College on Tuesday, she said: "Homophobic bullying affects every young person seen as 'different' and many suffer homophobic bullying regardless of their sexual orientation.
"The fact is bullies will target anyone who doesn't conform to their own views of gender stereotype. I'm talking about the girl who likes rugby, the boy who doesn't like football.
"The nature of bullying has changed considerably, with social media providing an anonymous space for abuse and ridicule."
She went on: "We must not under-estimate the importance of homophobic language which has a huge effect on young people.
"The derogatory use of the word gay is offensive and unacceptable. The impact of homophobic bullying can be devastating.
"A victim is likely to see their grades suffer, experience health issues and they might even consider taking their own life. This is unacceptable."
Ms Morgan said homophobic bullying needed to be tackled at its root.
"I firmly believe that we will see a future where homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying are banished, but we are not complacent."