Protests against LGBT equality lessons at Birmingham primary schools have coincided with the biggest ever spike in homophobic hate incidents.
A total of 395 homophobic hate crimes were reported to West Midlands Police from March to the end of July this year.
This is nearly double the number reported in the previous five months.
The trend has been described as 'disturbing' by the police officer Gary Stack.
"There has definitely been a step change in people's attitudes. "We are currently seeing a huge spike in homophobic hate crime reports, which coincided with when the protests started outside the schools. "A good number of those will be directly linked to the protests, others will be increased confidence in saying certain things, and the media interest and publicity also we see a rise."
The protests have concerned a programme of lessons called 'No Outsiders' - it teaches children about diversity in modern day Britain which includes religious, ethnic, and sexual orientation.
They have been led by parents and campaigners concerned that the teaching and related books were 'not age appropriate' and went against their religious beliefs.
What is a hate crime?
A hate crime is any criminal offence (for example, public order offence, criminal damage, harassment, assault) that is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.
What is a hate incident?
A hate incident is a non-crime event (for example, insults, criticism or other examples of free speech; or some forms of anti social behaviour) that is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.
Andrew Moffat, assistant head teacher at Parkfield Community School, who is openly gay, has said: "I have never experienced homophobia like I have in the last six months."
Mr Moffat said he has reported a 'significant amount' of offences targeting him – both at school and online – to the police.
"I am really concerned that there is a culture developing where hate crime is becoming acceptable," he added.
"Hate crime is unacceptable in any circumstance or setting and schools should be safe places for children and staff. "Our country has a proud history of tolerance and that is why we want children to learn the importance of respect for each other."