Parents protesting over LGBT+ lessons in Birmingham told they risk attracting ‘extreme fringe movements’

‘We have been appalled to see attempts to divide people through incendiary language’

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Friday 08 March 2019 17:04
Comments
Teacher up for global prize, Andrew Moffat explains LGBT lessons 'nothing to do with sex'

Parents protesting about LGBT+ lessons at a Birmingham primary school have been warned that they risk attracting “extreme fringe movements”, by the city’s council.

The advice came as hundreds signed a petition supporting the school’s diversity programme.

Parents and staff at Parkfield Community School, where most pupils are Muslim, were urged by the council to “come together” amid a row over teachings on same-sex relationships.

It comes after a number of demonstrations by some parents who claim their children are too young for the topic. Some families took their offspring out of the school in protest.

Saying that it was “appalled” to see the use of “insulting and incendiary” language towards LGBT+ people, the council warned that continued protests could fuel hate and division.

Birmingham city councillor John Cotton said: “We remain concerned at the continued protests by parents of Parkfield School and urge both the school and parents to come together in the spirit of cooperation in the best interests of the children.”

The cabinet member for social inclusion, community safety and equalities, added: “Whilst we recognise that parents have concerns, continuing protests only serve to attract extreme fringe movements taking an opportunity to further messages of division and hate.

“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.”

His comments came as it emerged that more than 600 people have signed a new petition supporting Andrew Moffat, the school’s assistant head, who introduced the “No Outsiders” programme – which uses story books to teach about same-sex relationships.

It says: “Concerns raised have included the stereotype that LGBT+ is ‘inappropriate’ and ‘sexualised’. This project does not include topics of this nature and instead teaches children about different family dynamics in general.”

Mr Moffat has been targeted with protests and threats from parents who argue that their primary-age children are too young to learn about the topic.

Speaking to The Independent last month, Mr Moffat, who is a top 10 finalist for one of the world’s top teaching awards, said he believed his openness about his sexuality triggered the opprobrium.

“I am a teacher that just so happens to be gay. I should be able to teach safely and comfortably anywhere,” he said.

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