17-year-old quits course after she was told to "get out" of class for supporting far-right leader Tommy Robinson
Alissa Gray-Cook says she's now "terrified" to return and that she's decided to quit her course after just that one class because of the incident
A teenager quit her art and employability course at Total People in Crewe, Cheshire, U.K., after she was given a "final warning for being too right-wing" about her ideologies. 17-year-old Alissa Gray-Cook was taking part in a political debate on the first day of the class when she says she declared her support for far-right activist and English Defense League (EDL) founder Tommy Robinson, resulting in an unpleasant confrontation.
While her other classmates expressed solidarity with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Gray-Cook said she leaned more towards right-wing ideologies. This reportedly resulted in a teacher telling her to "get out" because the class did not need "people with your views."
Speaking about the incident, the 17-year-old was quoted by the Mirror as saying, "I was given a final warning for being too right-wing. It was the first day and we were having a conversation when Jeremy Corbyn came up. I asked people not to get into it because I was filled with a room of lefties."
"I said my opinion and the teacher said, 'get out, we don't want people with your views,'" she continued. "The class then started asking everyone who their favorite person was and I said, Tommy Robinson. I like what he is doing for our country and I follow all of his stories — I think he's a savior."
Gray-Cook said she's now "terrified" to return and that she's decided to quit her course after just that one class because of the incident. "The tutor said she would have a word with the others but when I went in I felt quite uncomfortable because of what happened. Everyone should be allowed to have their own opinion, but I felt mine was just shot down."
Her father, 38-year-old Gareth Cook, was incensed with how his daughter was treated. "I'm absolutely fuming at what happened and they should not have turned around and said she might not be able to continue with the course," he said. "She had to sit there and put up with opinions she doesn't agree with and they only reacted like this because it was Tommy Robinson. I'm a big fan and think the guy's a legend, but this is how people react when they hear his name."
After the incident came to light on social media and began gaining traction, Total People issued a statement, though it did not explicitly mention the issue at hand. "We are an inclusive organization, we are values-led and we ask that all learners are collaborative; respect each other’s views and work towards common goals," a spokesperson said.
"We have successfully worked with learners over a 20+ year period from many different backgrounds, religions and diverse cultures. We are confident that we provide a fair and supportive environment that enables everyone to work together and achieve their learning and employment goals. We uphold British values of Democracy, Rule of Law, Respect and Tolerance and Individual Liberty."