Anti-homophobia push hits schools
ONE of the world's finest actors visited two Bristol schools to support a charity that tackles homophobic bullying.
Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen, co-founder of the charity Stonewall, visited the City Academy in Lawrence Hill and Fairfield High School in Horfield.
Stonewall works to achieve equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people. During his visits Sir Ian took part in school assemblies and chatted to staff, pupils and governors.
He also met a group of young people from "Freedom Youth", a youth group for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender young people, to talk about their experiences.
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Sir Ian said: "Until I visited secondary schools recently, I hadn't realised how much anti-gay bullying goes on, throughout the education system.
"By talking frankly about my own life as a gay man and listening to the concerns of staff and students, parents and governors, I hope the visits arranged by Stonewall may make a difference in the classroom and the playground and also give confidence to gay students about their lives in the future."
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, councillor Clare Campion-Smith, said: "We are working hard to equip our schools with resources to tackle homophobic bullying and I hope that Sir Ian's visit has helped students and staff recognise that they have the right to learn and work in a safe and inclusive environment."
Head teacher at Fairfield High School, Catriona Mangham, said: "The students and staff here believe that everyone should listen and understand others' views and no one should be persecuted for their individuality."
Gill Kelly, principal of the City Academy, said: "Sir Ian's visit has had a great effect on the Academy community in raising awareness of homophobic bullying and the impact it can have on individuals. It was a great privilege to welcome him to our school."
National research shows that almost two-thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils in secondary schools experience homophobic bullying. In schools that condemn homophobic bullying, gay young people are 60 per cent less likely to have been bullied.