As cinema-goers await Sir Ian McKellen’s starring role in The Hobbit, he has a new video out which gay anti-bullying campaigners hope will have just as much impact.
McKellen, a co-founder of Stonewall, Britain’s leading gay rights organization, has narrated a new video highlighting the plight of kids bullied because of their sexuality.
Speaking in the video, McKellen says: ‘Over half of lesbian, gay and bisexual students have experienced bullying in schools.
‘56% of gay young people have deliberately harmed themselves. Nearly a quarter of young people have tried to take their own lives.’
The young people in the video were all victims of bullying and explain how it left them isolated or even wanting to self-harm.
One young woman says: ‘It made me feel very angry, frustrated, hurt, upset.’
And a young man tells viewers: ‘Teachers didn’t seem to react. They didn’t seem to feel they were equipped to solve the problem.’
The young people featured are now working with Stonewall to tackle bullying and use the video to urge schools to join Stonewall’s School Champions program, which helps teachers support gay pupils.
School Champions members benefit from visits from prominent gay role models, including celebrities and the Armed Forces. McKellen is currently visiting School Champions across Britain with Stonewall.
He said: ‘Nothing in life is more important to me than helping gay young people realize there are better days ahead of them.
‘I’m proud that Stonewall – which I helped create to tackle legalized homophobia – is now leading the fight in those British schools where homophobic bullying ruins far too many young people’s lives. It's a privilege to play a small part in bringing it to an end.’
It was produced by digital agency Feref at Lillian Baylis Technology School in Vauxhall, London. Watch it below and learn how to support Stonewall’s vital work in schools here.