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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January 2005, 11:58 GMT
Pupils join in gay history month
Gay men at festival in London's Hyde Park
Organisers say the project will help overcome 'misunderstanding'
A month-long series of events to teach gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history has been organised.

These include poetry competitions, films and discussions about the sexuality of famous figures from the past, such as William Shakespeare.

Schools are invited to attend and the government has part-funded the project, aimed at stopping homophobic bullying.

However, Shadow Education Secretary Tim Collins criticised the event, saying it was "achingly politically correct".

'Proper place'

Paul Patrick, co-chairman of Schools Out, one of the organisations running Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month, said it was needed to overcome "misunderstanding".

Events would look at famous historical figures and ordinary people.

Mr Patrick told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Homophobic bullying is rife in many of ours schools.

"We should take our proper place in history in the same way as black people have and women are now doing."

He added: "There are some famous people in history who clearly we would now describe as gay or lesbian.

"Florence Nightingale had relationships with women. She wrote about them with her own hand.

"As for William Shakespeare, the sonnets - his most personal writing - actually talk about a relationship with another man.

"Whether that is Shakespeare writing about himself or whether it is a conceit for the poetry is the question."

LGBT History Month, which runs throughout February in England, includes a national anti-bullying poetry competition.

There will also be a discussion of "celebsexuality" and an exhibition of works by the artist Caravaggio.

Misery of bullying

Mr Collins said: "It's all achingly politically correct. Surely there must be time and resources that could be spent on better things than this."

He voiced concern that children as young as seven could be taking part in events, adding that it was important "to protect the innocence of children of that age".

The government is giving 16,000 to fund the project's website.

A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman told the BBC News website: "This is part of a wider campaign to tackle bullying in whatever form it takes.

"No child should suffer the misery of bullying, regardless of race, sex or anything else - every parent agrees with this."

She added: "It is entirely up to schools whether they want to participate or not."



SEE ALSO:
When most of your school is gay
19 Nov 04 |  Magazine
Coming out at school
04 Jun 04 |  Education


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