TOP marks have been given to schools in North Yorkshire for supporting LGBT young people after the county was ranked the best in Britain.

Lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity Stonewall declared the county council UK leaders in tackling anti-LGBT bullying and celebrating difference in its schools in this year's Education Equality Index.

The index measures practice and policy at local authorities and their success in tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools and supporting LGBT young people in their local communities.

Findings from Stonewall revealed that in Britain 45 per cent of LGBT pupils, including 64 per cent of trans students, are bullied while two in five LGBT pupils are never taught anything about lesbian, gay, bi and trans issues at school.

The charity said North Yorkshire has been ahead of the game carrying out an action plan to ensure the needs of LGBT young people are taken into account, appointing champions and helping to establish pupil led equality and diversity groups in schools.

County Councillor Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Young People’s Service said: "We believe that all young people in our county should be supported to have the most positive experience of life both in school and in the wider world, whatever their faith, gender and sexual orientation.

"All young people have a huge amount to contribute to our society and all must be given every opportunity to fulfil their potential. I am very proud of this achievement and I am genuinely grateful for the hard work of the county council team supporting the LGBT community."

Helen Baker county LGBT champion runs a youth group for 13 to 19-year-olds with colleague Sam Collen from Harrogate District NHS Foundation. It offers a mixture of social and informal activities, educational information and brings in guest speakers who can provide positive role models for young people.

They also get together with other groups in the county to pass on issues and views to the Youth Voice Executive.

"We provide a safe space where they can be themselves. It’s really, really vital to have that support; if they’re not 'out' at home or school. It also allows them to be among other young people who might be experiencing similar feelings or problems" said Ms Baker.

Sarah Rose of Stonewall said the charity had been set up 30 years ago to fight legislation that allowed bullying to flourish effectively banning teachers from talking about same-sex relationships and LGBT issues. She said the local authorities ranked in the top ten of the Education Equality Index were undertaking "inspiring work." to support youngsters.

She added: "The fantastic work of the top-ranking entrants show just how far we’ve come toward ensuring all young people feel free to be themselves, without fear of exclusion or bullying. We are one step closer to creating a world where all young people are welcomed and accepted without exception."