A good education can open your mind and lift the soul, but a bad experience at school can leave scars. Just ask Annie Wells.

Of all the MSPs who won last year, the election of Wells as a Tory member in Glasgow was the most remarkable, given the anguish she has endured.

Wells had been a typical 13-year-old growing up in the east end of Glasgow in the mid-1980s. As a pupil at an all-girls Catholic school, she listened to Adam and the Ants, enjoyed gymnastics, played the cello and was good at maths.

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She then came out as gay, a decision that should have led to Our Lady and Saint Francis secondary school offering support.

“I knew I was a bit different for a couple of years,” she says, sitting in her regional constituency office in Maryhill. “I didn’t know what was happening to me because there wasn’t anything discussed in school.”

“There were bits of me going ‘I’m not right, I really need to be a boy’,” she recalls. “I wanted to be a boy and I was in an all-girls school.”

Wells told her parents, but her mum and dad struggled to digest the news: “I was taken to family psychology classes, psychiatric classes….My mum thought she had lost her wee girl.”

School was worse. After confiding in a teacher and telling her classmates, she was bullied and ostracised.

“I was told to change in the teachers’ changing room,” she says. “It was like ‘you can’t change with the girls, you need to change in that room’. I wouldn’t go for a shower after gym class.”

Physical education, which she had once enjoyed, was a crucible of cruelty: “If we were doing gymnastics, and I was holding up someone’s leg up during a handstand, it would [start] all the name calling.”

The teachers, she says, failed to intervene. “I kept getting bullied and I kept trying to tell them, but they weren’t really interested.”

A rite of passage for any child in their teens - a sleepover at a friend’s house - was denied to her: “Friends that I used to go and stay with wouldn’t want me to go and stay with them, in case I tried to kiss them.”

After coming out of the closet, she went straight back in: “I ended up saying ‘I made a mistake. I am fine’.”

As a result of the bullying, she left school at 16 with a few O-grades and an abundance of terrible memories: “I didn’t do Highers, because there was no way that I could go through it any longer.”

Her confusion led to her marrying a man - with whom she had a son - and it took years for her to come out again and live the life she wanted.

Three decades on, Wells, now a legislator, is passionate about stamping out bullying in schools.

The 45 year old’s support for the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign - set up to combat homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in schools - amounts to unfinished business.

“I know what it was like to sit by yourself at lunchtime and not be able to join in things,” she says.

“It is very personal to me. When you hear some of the kids now who are going through the same experience - it hasn’t changed in 32 years.”

However, Wells does believe that Catholic schools have “changed” since she was a pupil, but says: “They need to look at what they are doing in Catholic schools to make sure that no-one feels left out. I would like to think they are working towards that.”

Coming out politically was an easier experience. Like many Glaswegians from modest backgrounds, she and her family were Labour voters. Her dad was a friend of Bob Gould - the former leader of Strathclyde regional council - and her mum worked for Labour MP and former Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin.

However, the referendum changed her politically and, faced with a Unionist choice of Labour and Tories, she backed the Conservatives on the grounds they were for “aspiration”.

She became a party candidate in the 2015 general election - the first time she ever voted Conservative - but worried about her mum’s reaction to her being a Tory.

“My mother found out when a guy walked into a shop,” she says. “And then I got the phone call at my work. I said ‘I’ll speak to you when I come home’. I was bottling it in all the way driving the car home. She said, ‘whit, whit, why did you not tell me’?”

Her mum has since joined the party and Wells was elected as a Glasgow List MSP last year. She cites her own background as evidence for claiming that the Scottish Tories have a different public image than the UK Conservatives.

“You see it on the telly. There are people who break the mould down there, but generally it is people who are very well educated and been to Eton. It’s the boys’ club,” she says.

She is also a member of the Ruth Davidson fan club. Wells wants her leader to stay in Scotland, but tips her for Downing Street.

“I wouldn’t like to see her leave Scotland. I think she would want to try out the First Minister role at first, but I think she would be a great Prime Minister. She would definitely change the perception [of the party].”

When the first Holyrood elections were held in 1999, it would be hard to imagine a gay, working class Glaswegian woman who worked in Marks and Spencer feeling at home in the Scottish Conservatives.

Wells’ rise shows how politics has changed, but her troubling back story confirms that attitudes at all levels of society also need to follow suit.