The government is hijacking LGBT+ sex education to bolster its counterterrorism strategy – it must stop now

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Thursday 05 September 2019 17:56
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Mother talks to Sky News about her concerns over Government's counter-terror Prevent scheme

As LGBT+ individuals, and organisations that support LGBT+ communities, we are concerned by the way that Muslim communities have been framed by both government and media in relation to the teaching of LGBT+-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in primary schools.

We support the inclusion of LGBT+ identities within RSE at both primary- and secondary-school level. However, we reject the ways in which LGBT+ issues are being deployed in the government’s discourse about the requirement to teach “Fundamental British Values” as part of their “Prevent” counter-extremism and counterterrorism strategies.

The government’s claim that teaching LGBT+-inclusive RSE constitutes the promotion of “Fundamental British Values” is highly hypocritical. Let us not forget that it was Britain that implemented anti-sodomy laws across its empire, and it is Britain that continues to deport LGBT+ people seeking asylum from those very laws. It is worth remembering that the 21 MPs who voted against the new LGBT+-inclusive guidance on compulsory RSE earlier this year were predominantly white British men from the Conservative Party and the DUP. Our (unelected) prime minister Boris Johnson has a history of making homophobic remarks, including attacking Labour for encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools and describing gay men as “bumboys”.

The “No Outsiders” LGBT+ inclusion programme, as a brand adopted by teacher Andrew Moffat, has become highly problematic in its association with the government’s counter-extremism strategy. It was described in a PowerPoint presented by headteacher Hazel Pulley as part of the school’s strategy to “reduce radicalisation”.

The way that “No Outsiders” has been implemented and the wider embrace of LGBT+-inclusive RSE as the poster-child for the implementation of “Fundamental British Values” suggests a colonial “civilising” attitude towards Muslim communities, and contributes to a harmful and inaccurate stereotype of an uncivilised and intolerant Muslim culture.

Prevent is widely acknowledged to place excessive scrutiny and surveillance on Muslim children. The strategy has been widely denounced by human and civil rights organisations, with Rights Watch referring to it as “the systematic breach of children’s human rights in the school setting”.

Homophobia exists in Muslim communities – as it does in every community. Yet the spotlight on Muslim communities and the moral panic that has ensued demonstrates that Muslims are an easy target for accusations of homophobia which can be used to demonise entire communities. Mainstream media coverage of the events in Birmingham has encouraged the spectacle of the protests, inaccurately singled out one specific community as universally homophobic, and excluded more critical LGBT+ voices. As LGBT+ people, we condemn the cynical use of our identities as a form of dog-whistle racism, which is being mobilised to justify harmful policies of state surveillance and the criminalisation of Muslim communities.

More than ever, young people of all faiths and none need safe spaces to discuss and learn about consent, healthy relationships, gender, sexuality and identity. As LGBT+ people, we must resist efforts to coopt these urgent issues. We must connect our struggles against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia to the fight against racism.

Our demands:

  • The Department for Education (DfE) must offer clear guidance for the delivery of LGBT+ inclusive education in schools serving all our communities, produced in dialogue with LGBT+ groups, and including LGBT+ faith organisations.
  • DfE guidance must stress that schools should teach LGBT+-inclusive RSE as part of the usual RSE curriculum and not as specific to the promotion of “Fundamental British Values.”
  • There cannot be honest and trusting relationships between schools and communities while the Prevent policy is in place – we recommend that Prevent is abolished immediately. 

Inclusive Mosque Initiative  
Maslaha 

Purple Rain Collective  

Pride of Arabia  

Femmes of Colour  

Level Up

Madaniya Sudan Diaspora Global

Devil’s Dyke Network

East End Sisters Uncut  

Dr Sita Balani, King’s College London 

Professor Judith Butler, University of California Berkeley 

Desiree Akhavan (director, producer, screenwriter, actress)

Nazmia Jamal (teacher)

Frankie Muggleton (teacher)

Neil Hart (teacher)

Malak Obaidi (teacher) 

Kiren Mirza (teacher) 

Jay Bernard (writer)     

Dr Humaira Saeed   

Dr Nadine El-Enany, Birkbeck, University of London

Dr Sarah Keenan, Birkbeck, University of London

Dr Rahul Rao, SOAS University of London

Dr Suhraiya Jivraj, Director of the Centre for Sexuality, Race & Gender Justice, Kent Law School, University of Kent

Dr Jen Slater, Sheffield Hallam University

Professor Donatella Alessandrini, SeRGJ, Kent Law School

Dr Sinead Ring, SerGJ, Maynooth University Department of Law

Somak Biswas, University of Warwick

Sara Bamdad, University of Warwick 

Ajamu X (artist)  

Tobi Adebajo (artist)

Dr Dzifa Afonu (clinical psychologist)

Dr Navtej Purewal, SOAS University of London   

Dr Deborah Grayson   

Dr Caoimhe Mader McGuiness, Kingston University   

Dr Alyosxa Tudor, School of African and Oriental Studies,

Sarah Golightley, University of Edinburgh

Dr Nat Raha   

Dr Sam Solomon, University of Sussex 

Katharine Terrell, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Tanya Serisier, Birkbeck College, University of London   

Dr Başak Ertür, Birkbeck, University of London   

Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones, Birkbeck, University of London

Dr Gail Lewis

Decolonizing Sexualities Network 

Anisa De Jong, University of Kent 

Dr Sandeep Bakhshi, University of Paris Diderot

Dr Silvia Posocco, Birkbeck, University of London

Zinzi Minott (dancer/artist)    

Lola Olufemi (writer/activist) 

Sara Sassanelli, Institute of Contemporary Arts 

Ifeanyi Awachie, Institute of Contemporary Arts

Len Lukowski (writer)

Emily Nunn (librarian)

Dr Ros Murray, King’s College London

Ochi Reyes, Westminster University, Adult Learning Lewisham and Brampton College

Dr Kyoung Kim, Feminist Review Journal 

Dr Daniel Luther, SOAS University of London

Syma Tariq, CRiSAP, University of the Arts London  

Irene Revell, CRiSAP, University of the Arts London

Ceylan Begüm Yıldız, Birkbeck, University of London 

Timothy Smith, CRiSAP, University of the Arts London  

Dr Terese Jonsson

Lani Parker, Sideways Times

Dr Vanja Hamzić, SOAS University of London

Zia Álmos Joshua

Mumbi Nkonde (community activist)

Sanah Ahsan (Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Poet, journalist)  

Aisha Mirza (writer/ DJ)  

Sabah Choudrey (youth worker/writer)

Sharan Dhaliwal (editor Burnt Roti)

Molly Ackhurst (community organiser/activist)

Imani Robinson (artist/curator)  

Dr Serkan Delice, London College of Fashion

The UK supports Ugandan refugees

A comment piece was published by The Independent Friday 16 August 2019, written by Dr Mumtaz Kassam, deputy head of mission at the Ugandan embassy in Rome. It was about international aid funding for refugees in Uganda and wrongly stated that the UK no longer supports refugees in Uganda.

We are deeply committed to supporting refugees in Uganda and in the last financial year, £35m of UK aid provided food, water and healthcare to those in desperate need who have fled relentless violence.

It is incorrect to say the UK no longer supports refugees in Uganda or that we have suspended funding for refugees. Following an audit report in late 2018 about the UN refugee agency UNHCR, which included allegations of corruption, we have not released any further funds to that specific agency for the work they do in Uganda. This does not mean the amount of money we spend on supporting refugees in Uganda has changed as we continue to work with other charities and international partners to help vulnerable refugees in Uganda to survive. This includes the World Food Programme who are providing food for more than 1 million refugees a month.

This is saving lives, giving refugees hope for the future and building stability in the region which is in all our interests.

Andrew Stephenson, Minster of state for Africa at the Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The student vote

Am I alone in being concerned that any voting date in early October will potentially disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of students as they move between their home addresses and new accommodation in their college towns?

All political parties have a democratic duty to get students registered for a personal or proxy or postal vote, and the government must ensure that this new cohort can vote without unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.

John P Wieczorek
Earley

Lounging around

What a wonderful picture of Jacob Rees-Mogg lounging on the front bench during a debate. It sums him up exactly. Perhaps he might like to ask Melania Trump for her jacket with the slogan: “I really don’t care, do u?”

B Sheldon
Address supplied

Regarding Jacob Rees-Mogg taking a nap on the front bench. In fairness, people have been falling asleep on those green seats, and the red ones down the hall, for years.

Eve Parnell
Dublin

Where’s the evidence?

Jeremy Corbyn must see evidence of negotiations with the EU and proposals for solving the Irish border problem before agreeing to a general election. Boris Johnson’s assertion that they exist cannot be trusted.

Sarah Pegg
Seaford

Independent Minds Events: get involved in the news agenda

Tax havens

Captain Kevin Slade (Letters, 3 September) called for a ship to be on permanent station in the Caribbean to assist in emergency situations such as that which has befallen the Bahamas. The UK should certainly offer help and aid to countries in such peril especially ex-colonies. However, might I suggest a tax on the billions of pounds of money passing through these islands, whether legally or not, which can then be used to finance such assistance?

G Forward
Stirling

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