A small group of sixth formers at a Sussex school have set-up a campaign to highlight the problems that gay teenagers often face.
And now, the group has arranged a fund-raiser in Brighton next week to help them pay for their campaign, which includes a Website.
Seventeen-years-old Claudia White, a pupil at Bedales School, near Petersfield, founded the Grin Campaign (Global Respect in Education) after reading about gay teenagers who had been driven to suicide by bullies who had taunted them because they were different.
With school friends, she set up the campaign, and two months ago, on October 27, launched the Website which features Patrick Lindsay with the word “RESPECT” painted in the “rainbow” colours on his face. Since then, 33 others have been photographed and appear on the site.
On Thursday January 6, the group hopes to have many more photos to add following a fundraising photo shoot in Brighton – the group’s first public event.
“Anyone who supports out aims to support acceptance and equality for all in education and openly respect those who are in the LGBTQ community – and those who are ‘just different’ – are welcome to attend the event at the Thistle Hotel in Brighton between 5 and 7.30pm,” Ms White told UK Gay News.
“Age is irrelevant – young, old and in-between … all are welcome, gay, straight and transgender.”
The idea is that those attending will be photographed with “RESPECT” painted on their face and then photographs will be uploaded onto the GRIN Website. A minimum donation of £10 is requested.
Ms White admitted she was horrified to learn of the many cases in both the UK and USA of homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools.
“I started this campaign because Bedales is the first school I have been to where everybody accepts you,” Ms. White explained.
“It makes you realise how much of an injustice it is when people are not accepted for who they are. That is why we want to get as many people as possible to support the campaign.”
“We have no intention to stop taking these photos, until full education equality is achieved for all,” she added.
With more than 1,000 followers on Twitter, and a Facebook page, the GRIN campaign ‘took-off’ very quickly. And the group’s Website has had “tens of thousands of hits”, many of them from America.