Olympic skater talks about bullying of gay students

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 13:00 06/04/2011
Seb Stewart, Tabby Besley and Blake Skjellerup
PATRICK HAMILTON/Nelson Mail

AS ONE: Seb Stewart, Tabby Besley and Blake Skjellerup meet members of the Nayland Alliance of Queers and Straights at Nayland College on Tuesday to speak about bullying.

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Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup is putting an off-season break from the sport to good use, using his profile to campaign against homophobic bullying.

After speaking at his first school assembly, at Nelson College, Mr Skjellerup spent part of yesterday afternoon with a group of about 30 members of the Nayland Alliance of Queers and Straights (NAGS).

He said the group was a fantastic example of what could be done at schools to support gay students.

"They are all very mature and all very aware. Support groups like that are invaluable, just looking at the success of it and how students have approached it and really flourished."

He said it had taken him a long time to feel OK about his sexuality when he was younger and students shouldn't feel bad about being gay.

Support groups like NAGS, which has run since 2002, were an example for newer organisations like the recently announced Nelson College group, he said.

Q-Youth Drop-In Centre co-ordinator and former Nayland College student Tabby Besley said it was great to have a role model like Mr Skjellerup at the school and speaking to the group.

Mr Skjellerup will speak at a full Nayland College school assembly next Thursday for Pink Shirt Day.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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