Homophobic hate crimes have almost doubled in Birmingham.

A total of 395 homophobic hate crimes were reported to West Midlands Police from March to the end of July this year – that’s almost double the number reported in the previous five months, according to ITV News.

The rise in hate crimes has been described as “disturbing” by police officer Gary Stack, who also noted that the spike has coincided with continued protests outside Birmingham schools teaching LGBTQ-inclusive lessons under the No Outsiders programme.

“There has definitely been a step change in people’s attitudes,” Stack said.

“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 linked to the protests, others will be increased confidence in saying certain things, and the media interest and publicity will also mean we see a rise.”

Andrew Moffat, a gay teacher who has been on the receiving end of verbal abuse and even a death threat over his involvement in promoting LGBTQ-inclusive education, said: “I have never experienced homophobia like I have in the last six months.

“[The figures] are extremely worrying. The protests have given a licence to people that think it is okay to shout abuse. I think it is becoming acceptable to stand outside and chant ‘shame’ about a gay teacher.”

Moffat told The Independent: “People are seeing this happening and they are not seeing a strong, robust response from the Department for Education or from anyone in fact.

“I am really concerned that there is a culture developing where hate crime is becoming acceptable.

Related: LGBTQ-inclusive No Outsiders lessons to resume at Birmingham school