American talk show host Larry King made an emotional plea to viewers that Americans must demand tolerance for LGBT students.

The statement comes as thousands of American students took part in a ‘Day of Silence’.

The yearly event was particularly poignant after the homophobic murder of a gay teenager

Fifteen year old Lawrence King was gunned down by 14-year-old Brandon McInerney earlier this year in Oxnard, California because he was gay, and had allegedly asked McInerney to be his valentine.

The National Day of Silence is coordinated nationally by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

An estimated 500,000 students from nearly 5,000 junior and high schools in all 50 US states and Puerto Rico have participated in the National Day of Silence in past years and more than 6,000 schools registered this year.

In addition, presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each issued statements on the death of King, as did talk show host Ellen Degeneres.

Students in the UK are also took part in the day. The Sussex University LGBT group took part in the international day of silence on the Sussex campus based just outside Brighton.

All students taking part or supporting the event are being encouraged to wear black to show solidarity.

Sussex LGBT campaigns officer Tom Hewitson told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Being in the closet can ruin your life so today is all about expressing yourself.

“The Day of Silence has always been an American thing but we have a few US students who suggested that we took part and we thought it was a great idea.

“I think that it’s unlikely that what happened in America would happen here but I think that it is really important to be aware that it could happen and we need to put structures in place to make sure that it can’t.”