Stonewall has criticised the former chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), after he suggested homophobic bullying in schools was because of “too much media coverage”.

In a letter published by The Times on 17 May, Patrick Tobin, former chairman of HMC, criticised Highgate School in north London, which is a member of HMC, for launching an LGBT club.

He said: “It is macabre that, when society is unprecedentedly alert to paedophilia, a school should be encouraging its teachers to discuss with pupils their own and their pupils’ sexuality.”

Mr Tobin said it was a “myth” that people can be born gay. He also attacked the “gay lobby” and suggested homophobic bullying in schools was because of “too much media coverage”.

Government minister and Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, whose Hornsey and Wood Green constituency includes Highgate School, branded Mr Tobin’s remarks “ludicrous and offensive”.

Stonewall Education Policy and Campaigns Officer Hannah Kibirige told PinkNews.co.uk: “With homophobic language and bullying endemic in Britain’s schools, those schools taking positive steps to create a safe and supportive environment for their LGB pupils should be commended.

“Mr Tobin may want to reflect that only half of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils report that their schools say that homophobic bullying is wrong, which perhaps plays a greater role in the high levels of anti-gay bullying than media coverage.”

Mr Tobin spent more than 17 years as a headmaster and principal at Prior Park College in Bath and at Erskine Stewart’s Melville School in Edinburgh.

He recently retired as an administrator at HMC and was responsible for helping to organise scholarships for over 400 students from Central & Eastern Europe at UK boarding schools.

However, he remains an honorary associate and member of the organisation.

Earlier today HMC told PinkNews.co.uk: “These are the personal views of Patrick Tobin and in no way reflect the views of HMC.”