A primary school in Birmingham has dropped a programme that includes LGBT+ education after weeks of parent protests.
Parkfield Community School indefinitely suspended the No Outsiders in Our Schools programme on Thursday. This involved lessons on diversity as part of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE).
Many Muslim parents have organised weekly protests outside the school gates and kept around 600 children at home last month.
School management has made the argument more difficult by linking the lessons to the Prevent programme that targets Muslims. It should have no place in LGBT+ education.
Ezra of Hidayah, an organisation that provides support and welfare for LGBT+ Muslims, told Socialist Worker, “We are really disappointed that the protests have resulted in the suspension of the lessons.
“This will seem like a victory to the parents, but the children will need the lessons. I go into schools and so many are surprised to see us because they’ve learnt that you can’t be LGBT+ and Muslim.”
There should be more RSE education in all schools and children shouldn’t miss out on it. The LGBT+ lessons should be reinstated at Parkfield school.
There are different shades of opinion within the protests.
Some parents put forward homophobic views and don’t want positive mentions of LGBT+ people in education.
Others hope to achieve a compromise that keeps a different form of LGBT+ education.
Salma Yaqoob, a Birmingham campaigner, said that after a recent get-together of parents and LGBT+ people, “Parents affirmed support for teaching of the Equality Act, including tackling LGBT+ discrimination”.
Abiding by the Equality Act can mean different things to different people.
Some parents accept equal rights for LGBT+ people, but deny that people can identify as both Muslim and gay.
Ezra explained that Muslims have different positions. “Some have a really conservative belief,” she said. “But a lot of Muslims think that both Muslim and LGBT+ people share oppression and then others think that being both is fine.”
She added, “You have to take the argument to the conservatives.”