The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Reverend Nigel McCulloch has voiced his support for an initiative that tackles homophobic bullying in Manchester’s secondary schools.

He said: “Bullying, of whatever kind, is always completely unacceptable. At its worst it leads to atrocities such as the Nazis’ persecution and extermination of people on the grounds of their race, religion or sexuality.

“That is why faith schools must, as many do, lead the way in combating bullying – and not least the bullying of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, be they young or old.

Research carried out by gay rights organisation Stonewall shows that 65 per cent of LGB pupils have experienced direct bullying at school, compared with three quarters of pupils who attend faith schools.

The Exceeding Expectations project provides Manchester’s schools with training and support to tackle homophobic bullying. The Bishop ended his address with a message of support for the scheme in the city’s faith schools.

“I urge all faith schools to make sure that every pupil is fully included as part of the school community and encouraged in his or her studies. Each of us is made in God’s own image; and every one of us is precious to God.

“That should be the motivation of all our faith schools: to honour all people, including those who identify themselves as lesbian and gay.”