Some parents who are angry with LGBT lessons at a Birmingham school should stop protesting about it, as their actions may be used by extreme fringe groups to “further messages of division and hate,” the city council has warned.
The ‘No Outsider’ program, which teaches kids about same-sex relations through story books from the age of four, has been suspended until late April at the Parkfield Community School, due to the parents’ outcry.
The parents, residents of the predominantly Muslim area, believe their children are too young for the program, which is vigorously promoted by assistant head teacher Andrew Moffat, who is a gay man.
There were loud rallies against the LGBT lessons outside the school, with 600 pupils taken out of classes by their parents earlier this week to spare them from knowledge about something that’s taboo in Islam. Moffat has also reportedly faced threats online.
And Birmingham City Council is clearly not on the side of the parents, with one councillor, John Cotton, condemning the protests in a statement on the body’s official website.
“In recent days, we have been appalled to see attempts to divide the people of our city by using insulting and incendiary language targeting the LGBT community. This has no place in our city.”
Cotton acknowledged that the fathers and mothers may “have concerns,” but pointed out that “continuing protests only serve to attract extreme fringe movements taking an opportunity to further messages of division and hate.”
The council members “urge both the school and parents to come together in the spirit of cooperation in the best interests of the children,” he added.
Parkfield School is out of the jurisdiction of the Birmingham authorities, due to being an academy, but Cotton assured his audience that the city council was still “closely involved in supporting Parkfield and its staff” and cooperated with the Regional School Commissioner on the issue.
Meanwhile, more than 630 people have signed a petition in support of Moffat and the work he had been doing in educating kids about same-sex relations.
It claimed the assistant head teacher’s LGBT lessons were wrongly labeled as being “inappropriate” and “sexualized” as they only tell “children about different family dynamics in general.”
“Programs like ‘No Outsiders’ are more than ever needed to ensure future younger generations learn about acceptance and respect of others,” the petition read.
Another city council member, Gareth Moore, suggested that the parents should be punished for taking their kids out of classes as these students “are likely to be the next generation of homophobes in our city.”
The UK government is planing to introduce compulsory relationship and sex education in primary schools in the country, starting from the 2020-21 academic year. The program is expected to include compulsory materials on LGBTQ issues and it would be up to schools to decide when to introduce these topics. Parents will be able to withdraw their children from the classes but, beyond primary school, this would become a complicated process.
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