Bristol

Tory voices concern over gay actor's schools' talks

  • 17 November 2010
  • From the section Bristol
Sir Ian McKellen - library picture
Image caption Sir Ian spoke to two Bristol schools on behalf of the charity Stonewall

A city councillor has criticised visits by Sir Ian McKellen to two Bristol schools, claiming they could promote homophobic bullying.

The gay actor was invited to talk to the schoolchildren to help them understand what it means to be gay.

Councillor Chris Windows said he feared "possibly confused" pupils would be open to "potential bullying".

Gay rights charity Stonewall, which organised the visits, said it would be happy to discuss Mr Windows' concerns.

Stonewall works for equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, and Sir Ian is a co-founder.

Following the visits, Mr Windows, Conservative member for Henbury ward, said: "I'm concerned that by highlighting gay issues in schools in the way they are appearing to do it, that it can have the effect of identifying youngsters who are possibly confused.

"[This could] identify them to their peers and make them subject to potential bullying.

"Sometimes the best of intentions can have the worst of results, and if one single child ends up being bullied who wasn't bullied before because of this, then it will mean to say that this hasn't worked.

"I'm concerned about this."

Stonewall spokesman Chris Gibbons said it was disappointed by the criticism.

"The schools we are working at are very alive to the fact that by talking about lesbians, gay and bisexual issues, and a range of diversity issues in a very positive way, helps tackle bullying and discrimination and helps young people feel a part of their school community," he said.

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