“Education is key” to promoting the message of the homosexual lobby according to the actor who plays Coronation Street’s longest running gay character.
Antony Cotton, along with Brooke Vincent and Sacha Parkinson, who play Coronation Street’s first lesbian couple, have been visiting schools in Manchester in a campaign which claims to be aimed at tackling homophobic bullying.
But the visits are likely to concern many parents who are wary of the promotion of homosexuality in schools.
Mr Cotton, who plays Sean Tully, said: “Education is key – if someone is brought up to believe one thing then by the time they are an adult they’ll automatically think that. No child, no human being is ever born to hate gay people. It’s about getting the right messages out there and working together.”
Miss Parkinson, who plays lesbian character Sian Powers, praised the soap’s recent homosexual plotlines, claiming it’s stories like these that “point people in the right direction”.
The school visits, which included workshops and resources, were organised by the Exceeding Expectations partnership, which includes Manchester City Council, Healthy Schools Manchester, The Hope Theatre Company and The Lesbian & Gay Foundation.
Last month it was revealed that prominent actor Sir Ian McKellen is set to visit dozens of schools across the country to promote the agenda of a homosexual campaign group.
During a similar tour in 2008 Sir Ian, who is best known for his role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, claimed that faith schools which teach Christian sexual ethics are providing children with a “second-class education.”
Sir Ian, who co-founded Stonewall, said: “By talking frankly about my own life as a gay man and listening to the concerns of staff and students, parents and governors, I hope the visits arranged by Stonewall may make a difference in the classroom and the playground and also give confidence to gay students about their lives in the future.”
The tour is aimed at the 42 members of Stonewall’s Education Champions Programme, which encourages local authorities to promote homosexuality in their schools.
Hollywood star Sir Ian attracted media attention during a previous schools tour in December 2008.
On a visit to a school in Kent, Sir Ian claimed that faith schools which teach that homosexuality is morally wrong are providing children with an inferior education.
Earlier this year it was revealed that Stonewall was set to send every secondary school in Britain a controversial interactive DVD aimed at 11 to 14 year olds.
The DVD features a one hour 45 minute film entitled FIT, which the campaign group claimed would challenge homophobic bullying.
Concerned parents expressed alarm at the DVD, with one mother saying: “It has come to something when our schools are worried about first year pupils making their minds up about their sexuality”.
And a concerned father said: “Maybe I’m an old fashioned sort of bloke but I don’t want my boy seeing this. I could be wrong but I don’t think it’s normal to think about being gay at that age”.
Rikki Beadle-Blair, the writer and director of the production, said: “When on tour I would ask the kids how many people thought homosexuality was wrong. In every single school the vast majority, about 80 per cent, would put their hands up.
“But kids would come up after the performance and say quite openly ‘I walked into this room homophobic and will leave it a changed person.'”