A pro-LGBT councillor in Birmingham has said parents should be fined for taking their children out of Parkfield Community School in protest over the ‘No Outsiders’ programme.
It followed after 600 children were withdrawn from lessons at the primary school in Saltley in protest over the material which promoted LGBT values.
Conservative councillor for Erdington, Gareth Moore, labelled large scale demonstrations outside Parkfield Community School as a “hate crime”, and called for Birmingham City Council to act.
In response, the council said it has a restricted remit to act because Parkfield is an academy, but confirmed local authority officers were liaising with the Regional Schools Commissioner to address the matter.
Writing to the head of equalities Cllr John Cotton, Cllr Moore said: “I remain concerned that not enough support is being offered to the school and staff, especially since parents are becoming increasingly militant and taking their children out of school.
“The situation is getting out of control and I am concerned that this protest is in fact a hate crime.
“Clearly the actions of these parents are not acceptable and will be very damaging to their children’s education.
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“What is the council doing to stop this from happening?”
“We hear stories all of the time of parents who have been fined or even prosecuted by local authorities for taking their children out of school for a holiday.
“Surely the same should be applied to these parents who are withdrawing their children, and effectively using them as weapons in their homophobic campaign of hate and discrimination?
“Withdrawing children in protest at ‘No Outsiders’ will be far more damaging than any holiday would be, and it is a shame as it will be these children who are likely to be the next generation of homophobes in our city.”
Birmingham city council initially said that it is for academies to inform parents of their legal responsibilities in ensuring their children attend school but cases could be referred to the authority to take further action.
Statement from Birmingham City Council
Labour’s Cllr Cotton of Glebe Farm and Tile Cross, who is the cabinet member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities, issued the following statement on behalf of Birmingham City Council:
“Birmingham City Council’s first priority will always be to stand up for the rights of all children, whoever they are and whatever kind of family they are from.
“This city is built upon diversity and we value and celebrate difference as a strength.
“For many years, the council has supported various programmes, including No Outsiders, as a means of promoting the values of the 2010 Equality Act and ensuring all protected characteristics are respected. We have also championed the importance of ongoing dialogue and consultation with parents, so everyone is clear about what is and is not being taught in the classroom.
“We remain concerned at the continued protests by parents of Parkfield School and urge both the school and parents to come together in the spirit of cooperation in the best interests of the children. Parkfield School is an academy, but in spite of the restrictions this places upon the council’s scope to act, officers have been closely involved in supporting Parkfield and its staff.
“We are working with the Regional Schools Commissioner – which is responsible for academies – to address this issue. Whilst we recognise that parents have concerns, continuing protests only serve to attract extreme fringe movements taking an opportunity to further messages of division and hate.
“In recent days, we have been appalled to see attempts to divide the people of our city by using insulting and incendiary language targeting the LGBT community. This has no place in our city. Birmingham is a place of tolerance and mutual respect, where people of all faiths and none, all sexualities, all ethnicities, come together in pursuit of a common aim. This council will continue to champion these values and support all communities in putting them into action.”