Birmingham primary school suspends LGBT lessons until consultation with every parent

Muslim parents protesting outside Parkfield Community School in Saltley, Birmingham.

A primary school in Birmingham that taught pupils about homosexuality has suspended the lessons for this term after 600 children were withdrawn by Muslim parents in protest.

Parkfield Community School in Saltley has been the location of weekly protests over the LGBTQ lessons, which Muslim parents claim are promoting homosexual and transgender lifestyles.

In a letter to parents, the school said: “Up to the end of this term, we will not be delivering any No Outsiders lessons in our long-term year curriculum plan, as this half term has already been blocked for religious education (RE). Equality assemblies will continue as normal and our welcoming No Outsiders ethos will be there for all.”

On Friday 1 March, Muslim parents withdrew 600 children, aged between four, for a day.

The school has confirmed that does not intend to continue the No Outsiders lessons this half term and said that the lessons would continue only after a full consultation with parents.

In February, the assistant headteacher of the school was forced to justify the lessons after 400 Muslim parents signed a petition calling for them to be dropped from the curriculum.

Andrew Moffat resigned from another primary school – Chilwell Croft academy, also in Birmingham – after a similar dispute with Muslim and Christian parents.

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Parents have been protesting outside Parkfield Community School, which is rated as outstanding by Ofsted.

Children from reception age through to year six were being taught five No Outsiders lessons a year, each one covering topics to meet requirements in the Equality Act.

Books being read by the pupils include Me, and King & King and Mommy, Mama – stories about same-sex marriages and relationships.

However, after the inclusion of the programme in the curriculum, Mr Moffat, who is gay, faced protests and the removal of children from the school.

The school appealed to parents to stop the protests, saying they were “upsetting and disruptive” for the children.

The issue was first raised by Fatima Shah, who withdrew her 10-year-old daughter out of the school, saying children were too young to be learning about LGBTQ lifestyles and same-sex relationships in the classroom.

She said: “We are not a bunch of homophobic mothers.

“We just feel that some of these lessons are inappropriate.

“Some of the themes being discussed are very adult and complex and the children are getting confused.

“They need to be allowed to be children rather than having to constantly think about equalities and rights.”

MP for Birmingham Ladywood, Shabana Mahmood, spoke out after parents in her constituency complained that primary schools teaching their children about same-sex relationships.

She said parents did not oppose sex and relationship education, but felt their children were too young and innocent for some of the information being taught.

Speaking in a Commons debate, Ms Mahmood said: “None of my constituents is seeking particular or differential opt-outs at secondary school level.

“It is all about the age appropriateness of conversations with young children in the context of religious backgrounds.”

Ms Mahmood, who has supported legislation for gay rights and voted for same-sex marriage, said the UK government should ensure the rights of minorities were protected, but that included the rights of people with orthodox religious views, including some Christians, Jews and Muslims.

However, the chief inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, supported the Parkfield Community School, stating that it was important children were educated about “families that have two mummies or two daddies”.

The schools minister Nick Gibb said it was important for schools to consider the religious beliefs of their pupils into account when they decide to deliver particular content to ensure topics were handled appropriately and responsibly.

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