Lance Corporal James Wharton - named by the Independent on Sunday as the 19th most influential gay person in Britain - is touring secondary schools nationwide during the autumn term 2011.
The tours, beginning in September, include assemblies and classroom work and support Education for All Stonewall’s campaign to prevent and tackle homophobic bullying and language, which can affect any young person in any school, regardless of their sexual orientation. The tours also aim to raise awareness of the diversity of the gay community to dispel stereotypes of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
James will talk to the students about his own experiences at school as well as his career in the armed forces. The ban on gay men and women serving in the military was only lifted in 2000. However, things have changed dramatically since then. James and his partner were the first to celebrate their civil partnership in the Household Cavalry one of Britain’s oldest regiments, and the Army is now a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.
James said: ‘I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk about my experiences as an 'out' gay soldier, and the importance of diversity in a team. And I am particularly keen to address the issue of homophobic language in schools, where the negative use of the word gay is so common.’
The tour is a benefit for members of Stonewall’s Education Champions programme, which supports local authorities in helping their local schools to prevent and tackle homophobic bullying.
Groundbreaking Stonewall research, The School Report, found that seven in ten lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have never been taught about lesbian and gay issues or seen lesbian and gay issues addressed in class.
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