'Hobbit,' 'X-Men' star encourages formation of LGBT/straight alliance group
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 11/26/2012 -- A school in northern London has been inspired to create a lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/straight alliance group in order to combat bullying.
Ian McKellen, the star of such movies like the upcoming "Hobbit" trilogy, the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and the "X-Men" movies, served as the inspiration of the group's creation.
The institution, Acland Burghley school, which is located in the Camden section of London, created the group following a visit by the actor to the school on October 24. While there, McKellen spoke of his many experiences as an actor as well as his battle for gay rights through the charity Stonewall, which he co-founded.
McKellen said he was impressed and encouraged by their openness toward LGBT rights and hoped that the school would serve as an inspiration for other schools to follow suit.
The group that the students created, known as Connected, is a joint effort by the Acland Burghley school and nearby La Swap. The group was created because students felt that education about gay, bisexual, and transgender issues was lacking.
One of the group's founders, Isabel Pitt-Watson Barnes, said, "We set up the group to encourage students to take action themselves and to raise awareness of these important issues in school; from questioning stereotypes to stopping the use of the word 'gay' as an insult."
The first meeting of the group was attended by more than 50 students. Regular meetings are planned, with the hope that various community leaders will speak at the meetings. They also hope to create school assemblies featuring LGBT issues and to host charity events.
The group has big plans for LGBT history month, including a charity concert and a march.
Another founder of the group, Adam Castle, said that the group hopes to become a safe haven for LGBT students. Mentoring will be available for those who need or desire it.
"We want people in this school to be happy to be themselves." Castle said. "The group will provide a safe space for students and campaign to stop discrimination."
Jo Armitage, the school's head teacher, said: "Acland Burghley is rightly proud of its track record of inclusion and diversity and is determined to be a school where every individual is valued, respected and able to express themselves.
"I am delighted that students have taken the initiative to set up Connected to help us make homophobia a thing of the past," Armitage added.
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