Father of gay 11-year-old plans to walk 96 miles to tackle homophobia in schools
Neil Dallimore wants to see an end to homophobia in schools, after his son asked him to keep his sexuality a secret.
Whereas some parents still struggle to accept their gay children, Neil Dallimore had the opposite reaction when his young son came out to him.
Dallimore’s 11-year-old son recently told him that he was gay – however, he begged his father to keep his sexuality a secret because he was terrified his teachers would “treat him differently.”
Dallimore was devastated by his son’s request, describing it as a “gut punch”.
“To hear your child ask that a part of his identity not be known to elders that are there to educate, protect and support him is a gut punch,” he said.
“His reason was simple enough – another boy had been open about his sexuality last year and afterward the teachers treated him differently in a negative way.
“Too often I hear stories from my kids about how they’ve either been the target of or personally witnessed homophobic bullying and it’s a problem that few teachers have seemed to know how to handle.
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“It’s worrying and upsetting to see your child treated like an outsider by other children based on sexuality and it must change.”
The supportive father now hopes to inspire that change by walking 96 miles across Scotland – from Milngavie north of Glasgow to Fort William in the Scottish highlands – in order to raise funds for campaign group Time for Inclusive Education (TIE).
TIE aims to ensure that LGBT issues are taught in all Scottish schools, in order to combat the increasing rates of mental health, self harm and suicide amongst LGBT youths.
“What TIE are doing that gives me hope, is making sure that – if nothing else – when children go to school, no matter who they are, no matter what they hear hateful people say, they will have an enlightened place, a safe place and they will know that they are equal, natural and loved,” Dallimore added.
Before last May’s election First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – a strong supporter of TIE – committed to “enabling young people to make informed choices about their gender and sexual identity is about supporting them to be themselves so that they might fulfil their potential.”