We need better LGBT education in schools, says man choked by teens for being gay
A man who was attacked by two teenagers and forced to apologise for being gay has called on the government to ensure better LGBT-inclusive education in schools.
Will Mayrick, 20, was attacked on a London Underground train in West Ham, East London, in October 2017.
The 16 and 17-year-old attackers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were spared a jail sentence this week.
They were ordered to pay £150 compensation each to the victim, in addition to £20 each in costs, and were handed 12-month referral orders to a youth offender programme.
Mayrick said on social media: “Very relieved that this has finally come to a close.
“Although no amount of compensation will cover the hurt that my friends and I have experienced, but I hope it highlights that hate crimes towards the LGBT+ community are still a huge issues and more needs to be done in education to combat this.
“Any money that I receive in compensation I will be donating to an LGBTQ+ support charity to help with their great work.”
He also called for “compulsory LGBTQ+ education” in schools.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Mayrick said the compensation would go towards LGBT charities Diversity Role Models and Just Like Us, which work to educate about LGBT people and tackle homophobia, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
He said: “They were so young, and I can’t help but think that if they had had some sort of LGBT education then the attack might never have happened.
“If it was made compulsory that children were taught about it… they could widen their knowledge and get a better understanding.”
He added: “I hope that someone from the Department of Education (DfE) looks in to this… it’s clear that there needs to be a better support network in schools.”
A review of sex and relationship education (SRE) guidance for schools was launched in the UK last year under then-Education Secretary Justine Greening.
Greening had vowed to update the guidance to ensure that compulsory LGBT-inclusive SRE was taught in all schools – however, it is unclear how much progress will continue under her successor Damian Hinds.
Hinds has said he will champion the right of parents to withdraw their kids from lessons they object to.
Faith groups have urged him to adopt rules that block kids from learning about LGBT issues without permission from their parents, and allow schools to teach being gay is sinful and damaging.
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Campaigners recently urged the government to stick by plans for LGBT-inclusive SRE.
Jay Harman of Humanists UK said: “It is time for the Government to make a decision.
“Will it continue to allow state-funded schools to teach that homosexuality is a sin and to condemn, stigmatise, or just entirely ignore the existence of LGBT people? Or will it move to end the state’s endorsement of such teaching and prohibit it as an anachronistic, discriminatory, and unconscionable affront to the equality and dignity of all people?
“‘It was not long ago that similar decisions had to be made by governments both in the UK and the United States in the face of segregationists and opponents of interracial marriage.
“History has taken a dim view of those who sought to hold back the tide of racial equality then, and it will no doubt take a dim view of those who oppose LGBT equality now.”