SCOTTISH country dancing is responsible for homophobic bullying at school, according to equality campaigners.

Hugh Torrance, executive director of campaign group Leap Sports Scotland, said LGBT bullying was also more common in physical education lessons when pupils were changing together.

Social dancing such as Scottish country dancing is widespread in schools both as a social activity and at end of year events.

However, because dancing involves picking partners Mr Torrance believes one result can be homophobic bullying.

In one case a male pupil taking part in the Dashing White Sergeant dance pulled his sleeves down over his hands to "avoid touching the gay boy".

Mr Torrance said: "We still tend to segregate by gender for most experiences in PE so the novelty of bringing all the class together for social dancing on an annual basis creates another layer of what others have called a proving ground for masculinity.

"That can result in hurtful banter and teashing or more explicit bullying of those deemed insufficiently masculine. Taking partners by the hand also leads to discomfort of sniggers or, at worst, explicit remarks."

Mr Torrance said pupils would deal better with Scottish country dancing if the novelty factor was removed by mixing boys and girls more often in PE.

Euan Duncan, president of the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association said an experienced PE teacher would avoid more gender specific dances and focus on those where large groups of pupils danced together.

Leap Sport Scotland, a charity which works for greater inclusion of LGBT people in sport, hopes to prepare guidance for teachers on social dancing by 2017/18.