A play that tackles homophobic bullying is appropriate for its 11 to 14 year old target audience and a vital tool in tackling the problem, according to Britain’s leading gay equality organisation.

FIT, a hip-hop musical that has toured schools nationwide and been seen by more than 10,000 pupils, has come under fire from the press today, more than a year after it began touring.

Chris Gibbons, senior education officer at Stonewall, rejected assertions that young people should not be challenged about homophobia.

“FIT is a tried and tested theatre in education production and the tour last year went to more than 85 schools across Britain,” he told PinkNews.co.uk.

“It is a really positive way for people to be able to talk about sexual orientation and homophobic bullying in a safe space and in a creative manner.

“Given the overwhelming response, we were able to do another tour this year, but that does not mean that everyone in the country can see it.”

Stonewall aims to make a DVD of FIT and distribute it to every school in the country – but that will cost £150,000.

A gala fundraising event will be held in Brighton in December in aid of the FIT DVD project. Sir Ian McKellen and FIT‘s writer Rikki Beadle-Blair will be on hand to meet supporters and talk about the Stonewall Education for All campaign.

Sir Ian has visited several schools this year, talking to pupils and staff about homophobic bullying. The veteran actor is to increase his school visits in 2009 in support of Education for All.

“It makes sense to make a DVD adaptation, so we can get into every school, and it can be tailored to be a part of the curriculum,” said Mr Gibbons.

He said that parents should not be concerned about the play’s content and said it was important all pupils see it.

“It’s not just lesbian, bisexual and gay young people who are affected by homophobic bullying – other pupils who stand out or come from lesbian or gay families also suffer.

“The play touches on a range of themes -relationships, bullying, conflict, friendship, and part of it is homophobic bullying – there are parts of it that all pupils will feel an affinity with.”

Tickets for the Stonewall reception at the Brighton Royal Pavilion cost £55.

There will be discounts for group bookings.

To book tickets contact Bimla Safka on 020 7593 1875 or email bimla.safka@stonewall.org.uk.