News Desk |
A Birmingham school facing protests around the teaching of LGBT issues has reportedly seen 600 pupils withdrawn from the school today in an alarming escalation which is placing children’s safety and education at risk, Humanists UK says.
Education publication TES today reported that 600 pupils have been taken out of Anderton Park Primary in Birmingham by their parents due to increasing pressure from Muslim demonstrators outside the school who claim to teach about LGBT rights is against their religion. The school has 749 pupils on its roll.
This latest move follows heightened scenes where protesters appeared in a new video criticizing LGBT people and women, adding ‘This is so against the word of God, God created women for men’s pleasure.’
It has led to officials and MPs including Birmingham Council leader Ian Ward and MP Jess Phillips to call for Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) to put in place safety exclusion zones at affected schools, similar to buffer zones used near abortion clinics.
‘It is crucial that the Government acts now to protect students at all of these schools by ensuring that they continue to receive their education, and that they feel safe to attend school. We also support officials’ moves to introduce safety exclusion zones so that children are not subjected to vile and harmful comments from protesters which send the message that LGBT people and women are not equal’ he added.
A teacher uploaded a student’s letter directed towards the protesters and asked for it to be read and respect the children’s wishes.
— Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson (@MrsSHC) May 22, 2019
Following the latest developments, Humanists UK, which campaigns for inclusive relationships and sex education (RSE), including promoting respect for LGBT people, called on leadership from the highest government level to intervene in the situation, and said it supported the introduction of such exclusion zones.
Protest in front of school
Protests around LGBT lessons being taught in schools began at another Birmingham school, Parkfield Community School, which teaches about equality and LGBT relationships in its No Outsiders program. While Anderton Park does not teach that program, the protesters are voicing their opposition to compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE) which comes into effect next year. The protests have been mainly organized by Shakeel Afsar, who is leading the protest of parents that have children studying at the school.
Humanists UK’s Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham said: ‘The recent appalling comments by protesters – including that “God created women for men’s pleasure” – show why all children need education on relationships and sex so that they have the information and advice available to help them lead healthy, happy, and safe lives.
‘It is crucial that the Government acts now to protect students at all of these schools by ensuring that they continue to receive their education, and that they feel safe to attend school. We also support officials’ moves to introduce safety exclusion zones so that children are not subjected to vile and harmful comments from protesters which send the message that LGBT people and women are not equal.’
Support poured in
Many people from LGBT community took to Twitter and showed their support for school and its teaching. People wrote heartfelt letters thanking the school for including their community’s narrative in their education system.
I've never written to an MP before, but after his comments about the @AndertonPark protests, I felt compelled to write to @RogerGodsiff. It's all a bit rambled but I hope it makes him think twice about his comments. @LGBTLabour @UKLabour #lgbt #equality #educate #education pic.twitter.com/cCZR680Smd
— Dan 🏳️🌈🎮🎬🎭🇪🇺 (@pendo86) May 22, 2019
Staff @AndertonPark would like to say a massive thank you to staff @ParkfieldSchool for the very thoughtful care package that we’ve just received. We are definitely feeling the love. #inittogether #equality 🌈 @MrsSHC @moffat_andrew pic.twitter.com/doJ1P9ofZY
— MissEdwards (@MissEdwards24) May 22, 2019
"Frankly, a primary school is no place for the continuance of a large scale protest, however lawful," says chief constable: https://t.co/q3NLEtm1lI
— Tes (@tes) May 21, 2019
Keep doing what you are doing and don’t let these homophobic hypocrites outside your school grind you down. Our 10 & 7 year old sons friends and their parents don’t bat an eyelid about them having 2 dads.
— Andy Speakman (@AndySpeakman88) May 22, 2019
Education secretary Damian Hinds has called for more dialogue between schools and parents after protesters took their children out of Anderton Park Primary, as part of a campaign against the way pupils are taught about LGBT.
Birmingham Council leader Ian Ward has today condemned the protests as “intolerant” and said he wanted to use legal powers to stop the demonstrations taking place.
Mr. Hinds said that children and teachers should not have to walk past protests on their way to school, as he stressed the importance of children having an “opportunity to find out about and discuss the reality of our society”.
He added: “I want schools and parents to be talking about these things. We have come a long way, actually, and from next year and the year after, we are going to have relationships education as a mandatory subject in primary schools.”
Muslim’s religious bindings
Islam is the world’s 2nd largest and fastest growing religion. The holy book “Quran” strictly forbids “any intimate relationship between same sex” and promises strict punishment for anyone who goes against the rule. Sentiments of religiously active people were hurt which prompted them to gather and protest against the kind of teaching the school was imparting.
Birmingham is largely populated with the Muslim community and many of protesters included parents of students. The move started when a Birmingham trust, Leigh Trust, which runs five schools said it will stop teaching lessons about LGBT acceptance to students following mounting pressure by parents.
BBC quoted another protester saying, ‘Morally we do not accept homosexuality as a valid sexual relationship to have.’ The BBC report says campaigners claim the classes are inappropriate for young children and the schools’ LGBT message contradicts Islam.
Ofsted’s (The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) chief inspector has backed a teacher in the running for a global prize who is at the center of a sex education storm.
Andrew Moffat, who has made the final of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, saw protests erupt outside Parkfield Community School in Birmingham after parents took issue with him teaching about same-sex relationships at the primary.