Headteacher thanks families for shower of rainbow-coloured support after homophobic abuse

A headteacher who was targeted by homophobic graffiti has said he felt "overwhelmed" by the support he received from families, after they decorated the school in rainbow-coloured decorations.

Rainbow-coloured hearts and flags were put up outside Hotspur Primary School in Heaton, Newcastle, in response to the abuse aimed at the head Miles Wallis-Clarke.

Northumbria Police have confirmed the abuse is being treated as a hate crime.

Parents and children rallied round to support him after he wrote an online bulletin about the "hurtful and upsetting" experience.

The school was decorated with rainbow-coloured hearts and flags. Credit: ITV News

Mr Wallis-Clarke told ITV News: "I feel completely overwhelmed, a little embarrassed at the level of support, but hugely, hugely uplifted.

"It was very heartwarming to see the response and some of that was personal, but some of that was about supporting groups that are minorities, or groups that are marginalised in society and that's a big part of our message to our children.

"Sometimes people say: 'Do we really still need to do work on equality and diversity, aren't things sorted, same-sex marriage is legalised?'

"But actually this shows we absolutely do need to carry on that battle."

The headteacher said he had been left feeling "vulnerable" and "angry" after the abuse, but had received support from the school, governors, his family and husband.

The headteacher said he felt overwhelmed by the show of support from families. Credit: ITV News

Mr Wallis-Clarke wrote in his online bulletin: "Some of you will have seen the homophobic and libellous abuse about me sprayed at the entrance to school.

"This was hurtful and upsetting."

He added: "To be attacked for who you are is a horrible experience."

After the shock of seeing the graffiti daubed on a path and on a building, the public response with rainbow paintings and flags at the school's entrances, has given him strength.

He said he was showered with cards, flowers and messages online offering him support from around the world.

"The reversal of feelings was huge, to actually feel this was something very unpleasant, was a hate crime, turned into something really positive," Mr Wallis-Clarke said.

An investigation into the hate crime is underway. Credit: ITV News

"Actually seeing the legacy of the work we have done with our children and families over the years, because our children could say no this isn't right, we don't like this and we want to support you and we want to up the work that we are doing on fighting discrimination in our local area."

Inspector Robert Stowers, of Northumbria Police, said an investigation was under way following the criminal damage overnight last week.

He said: "We are currently treating the incident as a hate crime and inquiries are ongoing.

"Nobody should be victimised for being who they are and we are taking this incident very seriously - and will take robust action against those responsible."

Anyone with information was asked to call 101 or ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.