Labour MP reveals he was hospitalised in horrific anti-gay attack
A Labour MP has revealed that he was left needing facial reconstruction surgery as a teen after an anti-gay attack.
Chris Elmore, the Labour MP for Ogmore, made the revelation in Parliament during a debate about Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools.
The politician, who is heterosexual, spoke about an incident from his childhood during his speech.
He said: “The effects of sexual harassment on mental health and wellbeing are of course huge, and it leaves lasting scars on girls, as well as on some boys, when they later move into the workplace.
“Those who have committed what in my view are offences think it is acceptable in society to carry on doing so.
“I speak as someone who was never sexually assaulted in school, but I was horrifically assaulted in school to the point that I was hospitalised several times and received mental health support for what would be considered breakdowns at the ages of 14, 16 and 17.
“I know all too well the horrors of being attacked for supposedly, as it happens, being a homosexual, which I am not—and if I was, so what?
“That was the rationale for my being attacked the final time at the age of 17, when I was assaulted and hospitalised, which involved minor reconstruction to part of my face.
“I was assaulted in a friend’s home by seven school friends, based on the premise that I was—I shall keep this within parliamentary language—a gayer, and therefore deserved to be attacked as a 17-year-old boy.”
Speaking about sexual violence, he said: “Clearly, horrible and horrific issues have arisen this week, which makes it even more poignant that we are having this debate today.
“The issues in schools are the starting point for the systemic problem that we arguably have in this House and across various parts of society. It is not just in this House, but in business, local government and, I would argue, at every level of society.”
“As a former cabinet member for children’s social care and education for four years in Wales, I fought for organisations such as Stonewall Cymru to come in and assess the impact of violence in schools on LGBT bullying and bullying generally, against the will of some teachers in senior leadership roles.”
Other MPs also called for LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education in the debate.
Labour’s Dawn Butler said: “Stonewall has found that nearly half of LGBT+ pupils, including two in three trans pupils, are bullied for being LGBT+ at school.
“That does not even include the homophobic and transphobic abuse that LGBT+ pupils receive outside school.
“I know that the Minister is passionate about these matters, so will she tell us if the Department for Education will ensure that all teacher training programmes will teach positively about LGBT+ issues and tackling anti-LGBT+ bullying? Training is vital to take people on a journey so that pupils and teachers understand, and so that adults in general and we in this place understand.
“Will she also make a commitment that relationship and sex education for all children and young people will include LGBT+ inclusive training?”
Liberal Democrat Layla Moran added: “Sex education in England is unfit for purpose.
“It is part of the national curriculum, but the academies and free schools programme means that 70% of schools do not have to teach it.
“Government guidelines have not been updated since 2000 and are unfit for the digital age, failing completely to address issues such as online pornography, LGBT+ relationships and the importance of consent.”
The SNP’s Alison Thewliss added: “It is important that sex education is available to everybody and is consistent across all schools, so that everybody can receive the same message and has a proper space in which to learn.
“I pay tribute to the Time for Inclusive Education—TIE—campaign in Scotland, which is pushing very hard to get LGBTI+ education into schools.
“As the hon. Member for Ogmore (Chris Elmore) mentioned, this area can be a huge source of bullying.
“We need to ensure that everyone feels safe and protected, and is able to conduct their education in an environment without fear of bullying and harassment.”
The Minister Anne Milton said: “The reality is that this is happening everywhere, including in our schools.
“The #metoo campaign has without doubt gained momentum and done much to reduce the stigma and damaging shame associated with people coming forward to tell of their experiences.
“The hon. Member for Ogmore got a hug from the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy). He bravely mentioned his own horrific experiences, for which he deserves not only a hug but our respect.”
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Speaking about SRE, she said: “Relationship education in primary schools and relationship and sex education in secondary schools were made compulsory by the Children and Social Work Act 2017.
“The Act also provides powers to make PSHE mandatory in schools subject to consultation, which is ongoing, and we will be looking to hear from schools, teachers, parents, safeguarding experts and, to respond to the shadow Minister, from young girls and indeed young boys.
“The consultation should not be restricted, because sexual violence is not just restricted to girls. We will develop new statutory guidance on RSE, and we hope that draft regulations and guidance will be published in 2018.
“Regulations will then be laid alongside the draft guidance, and I have no doubt that there will be further opportunities for debate in the House.”