Great interview here
with Sir Ian McKellan who is on tour, not with a Shakespearean play, but with a message for schools that homophobic bullying must be addressed and that openness about lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be encouraged. The article quotes McKellan as being "overwhelmed and privileged" by the reaction he is getting from staff and students around the country who are reportedly honest about their prejudices, but willing and eager to listen and learn from someone whose fame, not least in the Lord of the Rings films, make him a powerful role model.
It was disturbing to read in the piece about the You Gov polling which shows that "nine in 10 secondary school teachers say their pupils experience homophobic bullying, but nine in 10 have never received any training on how to tackle it. Ninety five per cent of teachers hear the phrases "you're so gay" or "that's so gay". Homophobia is so commonplace that "gay" has entered the school vernacular as a synonym for anything inadequate"
Over the past few months we have seen heated exchanges on this site about whether schools should engage in this sort of education, in particular following Henry Stewart's blog
about LGBT week at Stoke Newington School in North London. Henry and the school were accused of being preposterously politically correct in the Spectator magazine
. "Dragooning" pupils into pro LGBT activities was described as a sort of minority activity, the preserve of 'left wing nutters' .
McKellan's dignified and brave actions prove that this is wrong, that homophobia is a real issue for schools to face and one that mainstream society must address.