Marie Causer, the mother of murdered gay teenager Michael Causer, has given her support to a play designed to tackle homophobia.
FIT was written by Rikki Beadle-Blair to teach school pupils about anti-gay bullying. It has been seen by 20,000 pupils in the last few years and follows six teenagers, some of whom are gay, at a dance club. The play has also been adapted as a film by gay charity Stonewall.
Michael was killed aged 18 in Liverpool in August 2008. James O’Connor was jailed for his murder but a judge said the killing had not been motivated by homophobia.
One witness testified that anti-gay slurs had been shouted by another man present during the attack.
Although his death was not treated as a hate crime, Whiston resident Mrs Causer has become a campaigner against homophobia.
She said: “The message has got to go out loud and clear. People should be free to live their lives as they choose to live them.
“It has a lot to do with education. We need to get into the schools and instill in people at an early age that homophobia will not be tolerated.”
She will join the cast of FIT while it tours schools, theatres and youth clubs across Merseyside later this month.
More than 5,000 young people are expected to watch the play, and Mrs Causer will be talking to them about homophobia.
The shows are being put on by housing associations Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT) and Riverside, who have been working with Liverpool’s arts and social justice organisation, Homotopia, to bring the play to the area.
KHT chief executive Bob Taylor said: “This is a major issue that we need to tackle.
“We hope that bringing this play to Merseyside will highlight the issues that young people face when confronted with homophobic behaviour.
“There is no place for homophobia in our society and we are committed to doing all we can to stamp it out.”