Muslim parents have threatened to take their kids out of a Birmingham school because of its promotion of homosexuality.
Around 200 parents packed into a meeting hall on Sunday evening to voice their anger over what they said was Parkfield Community’s School’s refusal to hear their concerns.
The meeting was held after an openly gay assistant headteacher, Andrew Moffat, piloted “No Outsiders” – a programme run alongside sex and relationship education (SRE) lessons in the Muslim majority primary school. Its ethos promotes LGBT equality and challenges homophobia in primary schools.
Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Islam.
But Amir Ahmed, of Alum Rock Community Group, said the school had acted illegally by breaching the Equality Act and had not consulted parents.
He told 5Pillars: “Mr Moffat’s premise is that if you don’t believe in homosexuality you must be homophobic, and on this basis he’s developed this programme called ‘No Outsiders’ and he’s proselytising a homosexual way of life to young kids in primary school. Now that’s changing our children’s belief and we can’t accept that.
“We want the No Outsiders programme to be withdrawn, we want an apology from the school and we want the school to be investigated as to why this took place without the knowledge and consent of parents.”
Parents said that the school had acted illegally because the Equality Act requires schools to teach children not to discriminate but not to actively promote the homosexual lifestyle.
They said that mosques, the local MP Liam Byrne and the local councillor Mohammed Idrees were not speaking up for them so they would have to protest and even withdraw their kids from school for a day to get their voices heard.
They also complained that the national media had demonised them as bigoted and homophobic when they were not.
One of the campaign leaders, parent Fatima Shah, said: “They are drip-feeding this to the children constantly, whether in English, Arts or Maths lessons. It’s always there.”
Another parent said: “They are very cleverly doing it so that parents are not noticing it. My daughter has been asked to draw a family of all the same sex. That’s wrong. That’s why parents must spend time going through their children’s books to see what they’re learning about.”
No definite decision was made at the meeting about a strategy to withdraw children from schools although the concept was widely supported. Parents did confirm though that they would be holding a protest at the school on Thursday, although they stressed that no homophobia would be tolerated.
On the other hand, Mr Moffat and the school have defended the programme, which they said had been fully explained to parents. They added: “No Outsiders allows us to raise awareness of these differences so that children are able to tolerate and accept differences in our society.”
In 2014 Moffat resigned from Chilwell Croft Academy in Newtown following a backlash from parents after coming out during a school assembly.
“It seemed like the right time to let the children know that they knew a gay person,” he said previously. “Following my coming out, some parents from different communities complained to the school, but I maintain that my decision was the right one at that time. Some Christian and some Muslim parents have told me they don’t want their children learning that it’s OK to be gay.”
In a joint statement outlining concerns by parents, Mr Moffat and Hazel Pulley, CEO of Excelsior Multi Academy Trust, said Parkfield Community School “have no plans to change their curriculum and No Outsiders remains an integral part of the drive for excellence.”