We do have a choice about how we treat each other

The Richmond Arms
, West Ashling

THE DISH DETECTIVE: The Richmond Arms, West Ashling, near Chichester

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In the same year that Olympic diving hero Tom Daley came out as gay, thousands of young people in England contemplated suicide because of their sexuality.

There is an unacceptable disparity in our society today when it comes to the lives of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Same-sex marriage is no longer illegal and couples have the same rights as any other.

Celebrities and sport stars like Tom Daley are free to come out at the age of 19 without fear of persecution from fans or sponsors.

Gay couples can live together just as any other.

Yet young LGBT schoolchildren are still taking their own lives over homophobic bullying.

A recent report from the Youth Chances Project, which interviewed more than 7,000 16 to 25-year-olds, found that more than 40 per cent of them had considered suicide.

A separate report revealed 80 per cent of LGBT youth are bullied for their sexuality.

So we applaud the steps being taken by one school in our area today to tackle homophobic bullying.

It will surely be of great comfort to young LGBT children to see there is support available and realise there is nothing wrong with who they are.

And it comes at the start of anti-bullying week, where there is increased scrutiny of bullying of all kinds.

Hopefully one day schemes like the one being run at Priory School in Portsmouth will be unnecessary but we are not there yet.

Until that day comes, it is down to us as a society – including our schools – to set the tone of tolerance.

We do not have a choice about being straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but we do have a say about how we treat each other.

And we should not rest until our young people can grow up being who they are without having to resort to desperate measures.

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