Blake Skjellerup

New Zealand Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup has joined a campaign urging Prime Minister John Key to address homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

Skjellerup is encouraging high school pupils to write to Key about their experiences of being bullied ahead of Pink Shirt Day on April 14, a national day to highlight anti-gay bullying.

“When I was in high school I was bullied for being gay. It left me feeling isolated and depressed. I felt like I had no one to turn to. I was lucky I had my sport to focus on, a lot of gay young people don’t have that,” said Skjellerup.

“As recognised by Mr Key in a recent interview, we have young people who are taking their own lives as a result of bullying. He is clearly committed to making our schools a safe space for all students. However, we’ll be asking him to look more closely at the disproportionate amount of bullying that targets queer youth. This is a campaign by youth, for youth.”

The 25 year old skater will also speak at assemblies in six high schools in the Nelson area about bullying.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to reach out to those kids who are afraid, alone and invisible. You don’t have to be gay to be a target of homophobic bullying,” he commented

Skjellerup, who competed for New Zealand at the 2010 Winter Olympics,

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