Parents should have the right to withdraw children from indoctrinating RSE lessons

LGBT inclusive lesson in a state school in Scotland. [Photo: Diversity Role Models]

Parents should have the fundamental right to opt out of lessons which are indoctrinating their children with beliefs that they are morally opposed to, writes Ahmed Abdullah.

As you may already know, mandatory Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) lessons will be taught to children as young as four in state schools across Britain from September 2020. In the run up to the bill, the entire fiasco appears to have become a war of words between secular liberals and mainly people of faith, as well some who subscribe to no faith but espouse traditional views and values.

“Relationship Education” will be a new concept of teaching in primary schools.

The controversial ‘No Outsiders’ programme at Birmingham’s Parkfield Community School, which has been at the centre of this debate, is entirely separate to the proposed compulsory RSE lessons in schools, but unfortunately for us as parents, it has provided us all with a cursory insight into the future framework to which the UK government could potentially seek to implement in the schooling system.

The assistant headteacher of Parkfield School, Andrew Moffat, who is spearheading the ‘No Outsiders’ scheme has published literature which cannot be morally ignored or taken lightly.

At the centre of the Parkfield School protests and the expected fallout in other primary schools in Birmingham is the controversial and Islamophobic Prevent strategy.

Prevent

In a recently leaked presentation entitled “Increasing Resilience in Pupils and Creating an Alternative Narrative”, slides included references to the following statistics and information; “749 children”, “98.9% Muslim”, “geographically in the centre of the Trojan Horse allegations”, “In response to PREVENT”, “Parkfield Community School has developed three aims”:

  • Develop a curriculum where children are taught to recognise and celebrate diversity and differences in their own communities and in the wider society;
  • Respond consistently and confidently to ideological challenges to individual liberty, tolerance and mutual respect for different faiths and beliefs occur;
  • Work together with parents and stakeholders to ensure we are part of the wider community and that our ethos permeates respectfully.

The hook, line and sinker with the slide deck has a page entitled, “How does ‘No Outsiders’ reduce radicalisation?”

Ask yourself this; why would Parkfield Community School and Birmingham City Council want to contribute and perpetuate a hostile environment to an already suspect Muslim community, given the scaremongering created by the unsubstantiated Trojan Horse scandal?

Secondly, when, or if ever, has a British-born Muslim gone out to inflict “extreme violence or terror” towards a member of the LGBT community? The reality is, this entire agenda reeks of structural Islamophobia through the lens of countering-violent extremism (CVE).

Muslims make up only 5% of the UK population, but they are disproportionately over-represented in Prevent referrals to the government’s de-radicalisation Channel programme according to official Home Office statistics.

Media bias

A question was recently asked by a member of the audience on BBC Question Time: “Is it morally right for five-year-old children to learn about LGBTQ issues in school?”

The reaction on social media was awash with support in favour of the learning of Relationship Education in schools.

News staff at the BBC waded in on the debate on social media. However, last week BBC staff were told not to comment on the rights and wrongs of teaching LGBT issues to children on social media.

No doubt we live in a secular society and we hear the term “for the promotion of fundamental British Values’”, of which one aspect is “mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith”. Herein lies the problem, and you could argue almost a conflict of interest where “mutual respect” is further explained, and according to the UK government’s guidelines includes:

  • An understanding that the freedom to hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law.
  • An acceptance that people having different faiths or beliefs to oneself (or having none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour.
  • An understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination.

Allow me to elaborate on this matter…OFSTED wants children to learn and understand that they are to respect people of faith and no faith, and for children to hold no discrimination against them, and secondly, combatting discrimination and understanding its importance. I believe the second point is where the agenda of Relationship Education and the indoctrination of children is stemming from.

The state wants our children to be “learnt” – a term I dislike using in this context – in not discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community who they may encounter in their lives, as well as children who have same-sex parents. It can be argued that who are we to discriminate against an innocent child who has been brought up in this world with same-sex couples? The child isn’t at fault here, but is it right for our children to accept this as the norm in society?

So, I posit the following question to the Department for Education (DfE) and Oftsed’ chief inspector Amanda Spielman; why are people of faith and even no-faith being discriminated against in the media for objecting to something they fundamentally disbelieve in being introduced at schools?

On the one hand we are told to have respect and tolerance for people’s faith, whilst on the other hand you want to combat “discrimination”. Parents are going to be torn between a rock and a hard place to teach their own children to uphold “British Values”. The sub-contexts of British Values which I included above just doesn’t fit.

Silence of Muslim leaders

Leicester-based imam, Ibrahim Mogra recently appeared on the BBC Breakfast show and spoke from a rather cringingly appeasing position.

He also started off the BBC Radio 4 interview by apologising to Andrew Moffat on the abuse and hatred he has allegedly suffered.

I guess Imam Mogra was rightfully displaying sympathy and civility towards a member of wider society, but what happen to showing sympathy and civility to Muslim parents who have been abused and demonised in the mainstream media and by politicians for opposing same-sex relations and pro-LGBT lessons in primary schools?

Imam Ibrahim Mogra

What does this episode tell us about Imam Mogra? What does it tell us about his affiliation with the Muslim Council of Britain – the largest Muslim umbrella group in the UK?

If Muslims leaders and scholars are not willing to speak up on national media, then what hope do we lay people have to fight our corner? Why aren’t imams up and down this country delivering sermons on RSE?

So what should we do as a community going forward? We can no longer have our children be baby sat from 8.30am to 3pm, we need to be actively involved in their schooling.

Get involved in your children’s school, form parent groups, speak to other parents in the playground when dropping and collecting your children at school, write to the headteacher collectively, be a parent governor, request school leadership to consult with the community on their plans once guidance is received to them from DfE and the local authority, and request lesson plans and to review literature. It is your sacred right as a parent, as well as the right of your child!

Most parents are generally supportive of education – not the indoctrination of children and being discriminated against for their faith.

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