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LETTERS—How should we approach Birmingham school protest?

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Issue 2645


Many of us in Birmingham were unhappy with the headline “Bigotry makes school drop LGBT+ lessons” (Socialist Worker, 6 March).

This appears to label the parents at Parkfield Community School as homophobic bigots and is not helpful to those of us on the ground working to win people to a different position.

We support lessons on diversity in all our schools and totally oppose any homophobic placards and leaflets, some of which have been evident on the protests.

However Parkfield has to be seen against the background of Trojan Horse, Prevent and the weaponisation of “British values” as a test of radicalisation.

This is a more than 99 percent Muslim-intake primary school, now with Christian leadership, in an area where Muslim parents and leaders have been effectively removed from all involvement in running local schools.

We have been to both parents’ meetings and a meeting of LGBT+ activists.

Neither were easy but parents listened when we said that their leaflets were homophobic and the LGBT+ activists started by talking about “the mob” and “hate crime” but ended with some wanting to meet parents from the school.

We have pulled together a meeting with people from both communities.

There is no automatic unity of the oppressed, it has to be forged from below and that is what we are trying to do.

We may not succeed but we will do everything we can to stop division from escalating as this is not in the interests of the working class.

Equality has to be won from below not imposed from above.

Geoff Dexter, Mirfat Sulaiman, Fatima Hickson, Sharon Campion, David Hughes, Doug Morgan, Bridget Parsons, Alistair Wingate


  • The Assistant headteacher from Birmingham, Andrew Moffat, is absolutely right to introduce a fully inclusive gay and trans Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) programme in his school.

Socialists should support him in this.

But he had made some serious errors. The school needs to assure parents that there is no link between the No Outsiders programme and the government’s Prevent programme.

But it would be disastrous for the school to back down on the delivery of inclusive SRE.

All schools regardless of parental views, should teach about LGBT+ rights and relationships. Moffat faces an attack from some Muslims who do not believe that children should be taught about LGBT+ relationships. They have been joined by right wing Christians and even the fascist Nick Griffin has given his support.

Education secretary Damian Hinds has tweeted that whilst SRE will be compulsory, it will not include gay or trans relationships.

This is the old Tory anti-gay Section 28 in all but name.

It is wrong for parents to withdraw their children from Moffat’s school in protest.

All children have the right to understand LGBT+ issues.

Young LGBT+ people growing up should know that they are as valuable as anybody else and their sexuality is not something to feel ashamed about.

Every LGBT+ teacher is watching what is happening at Parkfield and if the parents’ campaign wins out, this will be a defeat for the LGBT+ movement.

LGBT+ teachers will be more afraid and less confident to fight for liberation. So will LGBT+ pupils.

Socialists need to engage with the parents patiently, but they must do so while attempting to change their minds.

We think the campaign is based on homophobia—so we disagree with it.

Whenever there is a racist attack, we actively oppose it. Whenever the fascists mobilise, we mobilise against them. But we will also stand firm against homophobia, wherever it comes from.

Jess Edwards and Michael Dance


Requiem for the ‘American dream’

I was in San Francisco in the United States recently.

I was deeply shocked by how the disparity between the very few rich and the very many poor was so visible and tangible.

Wandering in the rich financial district you could see workers at multi-billion dollar tech companies walking alongside the many rough sleepers. These people are left to their health issues and their desperate conditions as if they are a “fact of life”.

Years of service cuts and privatisation have created a situation you wouldn’t expect to see in the “richest” country in the world.

The failures of capitalism are so blatant, so obvious and so brutal that they can’t be swept under the carpet anymore.

It is crystal clear that the “American dream” is attained by ever-smaller numbers.

Lack of decent funding for basic needs in public schools in the state led Oakland teachers to strike.

These strikes have been not only successful but also inspirational—other teachers followed the lead.

This success and support should encourage a wider layer of the US working class to push for a real system change. This change is much needed, not just in the US but globally.

Olivia Alessi

East London

Tory bribes over Brexit

I liked Charlie Kimber’s article (Socialist Worker, 6 March) outlining the increasing difficulty that Theresa May faces in getting her Brexit bill through parliament.

May’s promise to cough up paltry amounts in an effort to get Labour MPs onside highlights the contempt that May holds for Labour and the wider working class.

Here in north east England when Redcar steel works closed thousands of lives were devastated.

And still nothing has been done to improve workers’ lives.

Dave Tate


Don’t miss Nae Pasaran

I’d recommend Nae Pasaran, the film about the remarkable story of Scottish workers at the Rolls Royce factory in East Kilbride.

They took a very courageous stand with the people of Chile after the 1973 coup. They refused to service the Hawker Hunter jet engines used by the regime.

It’s a must-see film and is available on BBC iPlayer for a few more days.

Pauline Wheat-Bowen

By e mail

Climate change is the key issue

I enjoy your coverage of environmental chaos—and the fightback against it.

But you are still making a very important mistake. In terms of campaigning, meetings and agitation, climate questions are the only ones that matter.

Getting a better pay deal will be meaningless if we don’t act soon.

Paula Hughes


Guardian is blocking truth

Just what has happened to the Guardian newspaper?

Nobody is allowed to make comments that criticise the Israeli government. It doesn’t seem to matter if snipers shoot unarmed Palestinian children.

Hugh Moss


Lord Falconer helped scabs

I don’t want Lord Falconer looking into antisemitism complaints in the Labour Party.

He was best chums with Tony Blair. And he worked for the British Coal bosses to help break up the NUM union and recognise the scab UDM after the 1984-5 strike

Ann Jenkins


Tories make us die far earlier

Life expectancy for 65 year-olds in Britain has fallen by five months.

What a sorry tribute to austerity. And doesn’t it call into question a rising pensions age?

Bob Hillier



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