Education secretary Nicky Morgan has appointed the head of education at gay rights charity Stonewall as her special adviser.
Luke Tryl, who has worked with Stonewall on a range of campaigns aimed at tackling homophobic bullying, will take up his new job with immediate effect.
The move will be seen by some as an attempt to quell fears over Ms Morgan’s stance toward gay rights after she voted against same-sex marriage in the House of Commons earlier this year.
Her promotion by prime minster David Cameron to education secretary and minister for women and equalities in the cabinet reshuffle earlier this month had attracted serious criticism, particularly as she will be overseeing issues such as homophobic bullying in schools.
Her appointment as education secretary led to Michael Cashman, the founder of Stonewall and a former Labour MEP, to tweet: “Nicky Morgan in charge of education and equalities is deeply worrying. The true nature of the Tory party is unchanged and reverting to type.”
But Mr Tryl’s appointment will go some way to allay any fears, due to his work with Stonewall in schools.
Speaking to the gay news service Pink News earlier this month, Mr Tryl said: “Homophobic bullying is almost endemic in our secondary schools; that children in primary schools, children as young as five are using phrases like ‘that’s so gay’. There’s still a huge amount more to do.
“We really believe that at the heart of tackling homophobic bullying is good quality teacher training.
“Too many teachers are coming out of their teacher training never having talked about issues like homophobic bullying, which, ten years on from the repeal of section 28, is pretty worrying.”