AN Atherton head teacher has defended a ‘gay play’ staged at her primary school after it sparked a complaint about homophobic comments on social media.

Carrie Morrow, head of Sacred Heart RC Primary School, says she was shocked to hear of negative comments about the gay-friendly performance on Facebook, which led to a hate incident investigation after the posts were reported to the police.

Police ruled that the comments did not amount to a criminal offence but warned two men about their future conduct on social media.

The comments have now been deleted and Miss Morrow says that the school was fully justified in staging the gay-friendly performance aiming to teach children about diversity and pointed out that the negative comments on Facebook were posted by a ‘small minority’.

Miss Morrow said: “Overall our project was a success and I do not think that the comments of a few parents should be taken too seriously, as the vast majority of children and parents have been very supportive.

"I did not, and have not, read any material posted on Facebook.

"As far as I was aware only a very small minority of parents were involved in the Facebook comments and some untrue statements were made by people unconnected to the school."

The play on March 3 was a fairytale performance from the Action Transport Theatre company called Happily Ever After in which two princes fall in love.

It was adapted from a children’s book in Holland called King and King, is aimed at a primary school audience and is currently on tour in 40 schools in the Greater Manchester area.

Miss Morrow added: "Our new slogan at the school is ‘it’s okay to say the word gay as long as you use it the correct way’.

"It’s important to celebrate diversity. This is done with the best intentions.

“Some of the children at the school have gay family members. This is not something that should be seen as a negative and the word is not an insult.

"It is entirely appropriate that children learn that there is a right and wrong way to use the word ‘gay’; a word that too easily becomes a negative playground insult.

“I am very proud of our students who reacted with maturity and sensitivity. I would encourage other schools not to be put off by the comments of a few people as diversity should be celebrated."

Nina Hajiyanni, artistic director at Action Transport Theatre, said: “It would be a very dull world if everyone was the same and this play and the book are written for children. There is nothing inappropriate in the book or performance.

“It has been implemented by Ofsted that schools should inform children that the word ‘gay’ isn’t a negative word.

“This then carries on into secondary school, where childish comments can become homophobic bullying – hence the importance of the production.”

Sacred Heart RC Primary School has been awarded the Rainbow Flag by The Proud Trust for its work challenging abuse towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and promoting respect.

Children at the school are also taking part in a campaign by Wigan Council to design a logo for Wigan’s first Pride festival in August.