Following a massive outcry by parents, Parkfield Community School has announced it will be indefinitely suspending its LGBT rights curriculum until an agreement is reached with protesting families.
Under the schools ‘No Outsider’ program, students as young as four were being taught about same sex marriage and transgender lifestyle in an effort to fight discrimination at an early age. In spite of its name, the program alienated and incensed a large number of parents in the predominantly Muslim area who opposed it both on religious grounds, and due to the young age of the students involved.
While the school initially said the lessons would go on as planned after scheduled talks in Easter, weekly protests by the parents, including some 600 pupils being pulled from classes earlier in the month, seem to have changed the administration’s mind. Many parents also signed a petition opposing the program.
Parents, educators and the Excelsior Multi Academy Trust (the group that runs Parkfield) sat down for talks over the issue Wednesday ahead of schedule. The same day, the school administration announced the lessons would be suspended “until a resolution has been reached.”
“Nothing is more important than ensuring our children’s education continues uninterrupted,” the school said in a statement, adding that they hope the decision prevents parents from keeping their kids out of school. The board plans to continue discussions in the coming weeks in order to look for a compromise.
The lessons were heavily promoted by assistant head teacher Andrew Moffat, who is himself a gay man. The city council seemed to tacitly agree with his outlook, even warning the parents, mostly Muslim, that their protests were inciting “division and hate,” while Moffat claimed that he had received personal threats online.
The conflict over the school’s curriculum highlights a broader problem regarding cultural differences between England’s Muslim population and state regulations. Last month, Ofsted (the same regulatory body which cleared Parkfield of any wrongdoing Tuesday) accused an Islamic school in Birmingham of discriminating against girls by ordering them not to eat their lunches until boys finish theirs.
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