I HAVE written this to Christopher Chope regarding his vote as one of 21 MPs to vote against providing LGBT education in schools:

I am gay. I went to Somerford Primary School and then Highcliffe Secondary School, and in every year of school I can recall I remember being gay. Nobody would choose to be so purposefully different and nobody chooses to be something so many people seem to find disgusting or immoral. I did my best to lie and cover it up growing up and the bullying got so bad I was invited onto daytime television to discuss it at the age of eight.

When I moved to secondary school the bullying got much worse. I had no friends at all for the first year or so and would wonder the hallways every break and lunchtime on my own. When I was 13 I bravely told the first person at school that I was gay and the regret was almost instant. By the next day my whole school was talking about it and everywhere I went I would receive questions, abuse and glares and glances. Back in to the closet I went.

I struggled to make friends because I feared my shameful secret would get out. I never had a relationship with anyone until my mid-20s.

I knew statistically there would be other gay people at my school and even if I had just one to talk to then things might not have been so bad. But to allow young LGBT people to find each other a culture must be created that tells them their environment is welcoming and caring.

At school I was alone, I had nobody to talk to about it or open up to, and worst of all I had no belief or hope it would get better when I left. A huge factor in this was the fact that all through school I was never taught that I could have a healthy gay relationship (which I am now in). I was never taught that homosexuality was a normal fact of everyday life.

I still struggle to make friends. I know I am not alone in this because even now, 12 years after leaving school, I am still learning about old schoolfriends and peers who are only now able to feel free to be themselves and comfortable being openly LGBT.

Homophobia is taught, it is not an inherent trait like homosexuality itself. I don't blame the people that bullied me for doing what they did. I blame people like you who allow it to continue to happen and didn't take the chance to make a difference, even if it would have been 12 years too late.


Beaconsfield Road, Christchurch