Actor Sir Ian McKellen has spoken to Newham school children about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The Lord of the Rings and X-Men actor described to 300 pupils at Forest Gate Community School about his experience of coming out as gay during a visit organised by campaigning charity Stonewall.
The 76-year-old Hollywood star urged pupils to tackle homophobic bullying and chatted to the student council about discrimination and equality.
He said: “I told them how important it is that in this school no one is allowed to discriminate on the grounds of someone’s sexuality or race or religion or anything. It is against the law
“Outside of the school is something they can’t control but in the school and classrooms they say what is acceptable and what is not.
“Because it starts here, with young people. If they understand that these things are not right and that you must be kind to one another that it starts to change things.”
Pupil Taye Trotman, 14, from Forest Gate, said the visit had been a “life-changing experience” for him and other students.
He said: “It was a really good visit for the student council because he gave us some new ideas about helping to support LGBT people in the school.
“It was really interesting to meet him. He changed our thoughts about tackling these issues.”
Sir Ian, who is best known for his roles as Magneto and Gandalf, came out when he was 49 and has long been an activist for LGBT rights.
Headteacher Simon Elliott said: “It is a great privilege to have someone of Sir Ian Mckellen’s statue visit the school.
“As a Stonewall Champion school we are proud to promote tolerance, acceptance and diversity for all groups at this outstanding school.
“We want children to be able to express their identity in positive ways and we support children from all backgrounds to achieve.”
Article by Kat Hopps for the Newham Reporter ~ March 2016
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