UK Parents are Protesting LGBT-Inclusive Lesson Plans

The UK has seen a number of schools end their LGBT-inclusive lessons as a result of parents demonstrating outside the schools, setting a dangerous precedent.

Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, UK, seems an unlikely place for an ideological standoff between LGBT rights and religious doctrine, but that is precisely what’s happening†as a vocal minority of parents protest the primary school’s LGBT-inclusive lessons.

The lessons are part of a nationally-praised campaign called “No Outsiders”, which has even earned its creator,†Andrew Moffat, a place in the running for World Teacher of the Year.† The campaign aims†to educate primary school children about LGBT families in an age-appropriate manner.

Moffat has been clear that the lessons are not sex education lessons but, through a series of lessons and supplementary inclusive reading material, explore Britain in a modern context and aim to prepare children for the diverse world they are growing up in.

However, some Muslim parents, later joined by Evangelical and Jewish-conservative parents,†are†protesting the school lessons, saying that they were “changing” the morals of young people against the parents’ wishes.

Parkfield is not a faith-based school. Even if it was, the UK government has made it expressly clear that schools should teach age-appropriate personal and social education that is LGBT-inclusive, yet the immense pressure has caused the school to come under significant scrutiny.

On March 14†Parkfield said it was halting the lessons. It had planned to do so at the half-term break anyway but it indicated that until it reached a resolution with parents, the program would†remain paused.

Campaigners who support LGBT rights decried this move, saying it is a slippery slope back to Section 28, the Thatcher-era ban on being able to even speak about homosexuality in schools. Their fears seemed prescient as The Leigh Trust, which oversees several schools in the Birmingham area, wrote to parents in a letter dated March 15 announcing†that the program would not resume until after Ramadan and only after consultation with parents.

“We sent letters to parents saying we will hold a board meeting to look at the issue after Ramadan and will be consulting with them about what is in the programme but it is on hold until then,”†Mohammed Aikhlaq, one of the trust’s directors, told†Birmingham Live. “Nobody is against LGBT rights but there are concerns about telling four and five year olds about these issues.”

The parents behind this campaign have made it clear that, while they are willing to compromise to an extent, their end goal remains unchanged: they want an end to “No Outsiders”. They also decry the label of homophobia, saying that they are not anti-gay but rather are exercising their parental rights.

LGBT rights groups have been quick to point out that there is nothing explicit or graphic in No Outsiders precisely because†it is not sex education. The education body Ofsted has reviewed the program and given it its seal of approval, saying that the objections parents raised were not substantiated. Meanwhile, Parkfield itself as been rated “Outstanding” by the body, a significant achievement in an ever more stringent examination system.

LGBT rights group, Stonewall’s,†Paul Twocock, Executive Director of Campaigns and Strategy,†has issued a statement†on the ongoing protests, saying in part that while community engagement is vital and finding consensus will be key to moving forward, “That outcome must include teaching about LGBT families in primary school, because it is vital to ensuring that children from these families feel welcome and included, and all children learn the values of acceptance and respect.”

Unfortunately, the government has been less than clear with its response. In broadly criticized remarks, Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom,†said this past week†in an interview with†LBC’s Nick Ferrari “I think it is right that the government should have passed legislation that requires relationships and sex education is taught in schools, but at the same time, I also agree that it’s right parents should be able to choose the moment that their children become exposed to that information.”

The use of the word “exposed” has been particularly criticized, as it is a loaded term often used about LGBT people. In the past, it was suggested that “exposing children” to LGBT adults or information about them would lead to children becoming confused or adopting that so-called lifestyle. The issue was further compounded when Prime Minister Theresa May refused to distance herself from those remarks.

What seems to be at the heart of this issue†is the government trying to balance something that ultimately it cannot balance. Religious conservative ideology, if it speaks out against LGBT people, is homophobic and transphobic. It is an uneasy truth, but it is an unassailable fact.

Obviously, private beliefs are just that, private, but this is an example of a minority of parents attempting to impose their will via the often-used weapon of “parental rights” and the loudspeaker of social media. Education cannot serve those prejudices and safeguard LGBT students at the same time. It is simply impossible.

The government has to choose†which community it will serve, and it must choose LGBTQ students or risk embarking down a road that leads to a soft ban on being able to acknowledge the existence of†LGBT†students and their families.†The government had better act fast, because these protests are spreading, and the damage to LGBT youth could be substantial.

Related at Care2

Photo credit: Getty Images.

37 comments

Janis K
Janis K17 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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danii p
danii p19 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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danii p
danii p19 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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danii p
danii p19 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Amparo Fabiana Chepote

Nobody is going to hurt “family values,” Modern families, evolve, religious self righteous. Love and let it be. Kids are better than their adults families,

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Leo Custer
Leo C21 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan H23 days ago

that's sad and disturbing

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Karen H
Karen H23 days ago

Jenn C and the closed-minded parents - get used to it 'cause we're here and we ain't goin' nowhere.

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Joanna P
Joanna P24 days ago

Sex education is part of biology and should be taught as a science subject, not as sociology. Scientific facts are taught at the appropriate age in the appropriate manner. It has nothing to do with religion or feelings.

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Barbara S
Barbara S24 days ago

thank you

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