Sir Ian McKellen, one of the founders of gay charity Stonewall, will tour schools across the country on the charity’s behalf.

The Lord of the Rings actor is to give assemblies and meet pupils throughout the next three months to promote Stonewall’s campaign against homophobic bullying.

Sir Ian said: “Until I visited secondary schools recently, I hadn’t realised how much anti-gay bullying goes on, throughout the education system.

“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.”

Last month, the actor called on Stonewall to add marriage equality to its list of priorities.

The charity is not currently lobbying to win gay couples the right to marry.

Sir Ian told PinkNews.co.uk: “Stonewall has not put it at the top of their agenda and that may well a sensible politic thing. There’s a lot that Stonewall has to get on with, like the treatment of gay people in our schools, around the staff or students in the classrooms.

“It’s vital, crucial work that would change people’s lives immediately and frankly I would put that ahead of campaigning for gay marriage.

“But there’s no doubt about that, gay marriage should be on Stonewall’s agenda. Stonewall was founded to establish equality and this is a perfect example of an inequality that needs to be corrected.”