Birmingham school protests: Police intervene in parents' dispute amid calls for demonstrations to be banned

One five-year-old has been reduced to tears and left frightened by the protests

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Saturday 30 March 2019 15:34 GMT
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Protests over LGBT lessons in Birmingham

Scores of placard-waving protesters, demonstrators shouting into megaphones and police trying to keep the peace – these are the scenes greeting primary school pupils in Birmingham as they cross the playground at pickup time.

Daily clashes outside schools have been fuelling community tensions for weeks, with one group believing the children are too young to learn about LGBT+ relationships, while others say promoting equality and diversity is positive.

And on the cul-de-sac outside Anderton Park Primary School, the row has come to a head. The 50-strong group of parents was challenged by two angry mothers at the school gates who had had enough of daily protests during pickup – which have been growing in size and getting louder.

A protester, holding a placard saying “We are not homophobic people”, asked police to step in when one of the mothers asked her what was wrong with teaching about “two mummies or two daddies”.

One of the police officers standing nearby intervened and called for both sides to stay calm. The adults then continued to chant “our children our choice” and “let kids be kids” with a megaphone.

Within minutes, another parent, Imarah Forrester, started shouting though the railings of the school gates that the protesters were “homophobic” – after they continued to say they were not.

Ms Forrester, who has a five-year-old son at the school, said her child had been reduced to tears by the protests which had left him scared. She said the backlash was ruining the school’s reputation.

“The school makes the kids aware that there are two mums. There is no sexualisation,” she said.

But protesters feel they have been kept in the dark about what is being taught to their children. One mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said her six-year-old son has been left upset by lessons.

“It is very young for children to be learning about two mummies and two daddies. It is confusing,” she said. “I am not homophobic but there is an age range to teach these things.”

However, just last week protesters were seen with a placard saying “Adam and Eve. Not Adam and Steve”, which has left many members of the LGBT+ community in the city anxious and upset.

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The recent protests have sparked some members of the community to call for demonstrations to be stopped outside primary schools.

Speaking at an LGBT+ meeting, attended by more than 100 people, Birmingham city councillor Gareth Moore asked: “If abortion clinics can have such powers to protect them then why on earth can’t schools have similar powers?”

LGBT+ members also called on police and city council representatives to do more to protect them, saying they have “never felt more vulnerable” after the protests.

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