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'Attitudes are changing': Teacher bullied as a schoolboy for being gay comes out to 1,000 pupils

A teacher who was bullied as a schoolboy for being gay came out to 1,000 of his pupils during a school assembly.

Credit: SWNS

Daniel Gray decided to be open about his sexuality after being told to keep it a secret while training to be a teacher.

But after coming out in an assembly, the 32-year-old teacher has been inundated with support from staff, current and former pupils at Harris Academy South Norwood, in Croydon, south London.

Credit: SWNS

When Daniel was a schoolboy, he was bullied for being gay even though he didn't know it himself at the time.

Every single day I was pushed in corridors, I was called names, I was insulted, I was sworn at, spat at and I had stones thrown at me.

All because students suspected I was gay, I didn't even know I was at this point.

– Daniel Gray, teacher

When he decided to become a teacher, Daniel was told to keep his sexuality a secret from his pupils.

Credit: SWNS

I was told categorically when I started to train to be a teacher nine years ago not to come out to my students.

They said you don't want to give them any more ammunition than they've already got, and that's really a very depressing and very sad way of looking at it.

It's assuming the students are out to get you.

– Daniel Gray, teacher

At previous schools, Daniel felt he had to avoid answering particular questions from students.

It's not like teachers are here to talk about their personal lives - they're not - but my not talking about my life, it's excluding those who feel like they can't fit in.

It's always felt like I was withholding something. I'd never lie, but I'd change the subject.

Luckily I haven't had too many of those questions, but I learn about students' lives, and it's just who I am to want to build positive relationships.

– Daniel Gray, teacher

Since coming out, Daniel said the response from staff and students has been "phenomenal".

Other students have since approached Mr Gray for advice about coming to terms with their sexuality, and how they could come out to their friends and family.

He has even had emails from former students, who are gay, congratulating him and saying that they wish he had come out while they were at the school.

Attitudes are changing, by being consistent and having a consistent message, we're talking openly about these things for the first time.

We hear homophobic language at school and we stamp on it straight away, and we have done for years, but I think by personalising it, it gets people thinking differently, they know someone who is openly gay and could think 'oh, what would Mr Gray think?'

– Daniel Gray, teacher