Sara Khan says government was too slow to respond to LGBT protests

Sara Khan

The government’s extremism tsar Sara Khan has said the Department for Education was “too slow to respond” to “mob” protests over LGBT teaching outside Birmingham schools. 

Sara Khan, whose appointment was opposed by many Muslim groups because of her record of targeting certain Muslim organisations and individuals, told the BBC’s Panorama more support should have been given to head teachers dealing with demonstrations.

Ms Khan was appointed by the Home Secretary last year to lead the Commission for Countering Extremism.

She said the Department for Education “could have done so much more”.

“I think they were too slow to respond,” said Ms Khan. “There’s a lot of confusion about what’s actually being taught and I think the DfE could have played a very important role in clarifying to parents this is what’s actually being taught, not the misinformation that we’re seeing out there.”

Protests began at Parkfield Community School, where most pupils are Muslim, in February. Parents called for an end to the use of story books featuring same sex couples, as part of a pro LGBT programme teaching about equality.

Protests were also held at Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham. Campaigners said the schools had a pro LGBT agenda and that it was inappropriate to teach young children about same-sex relationships.

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The schools, however, said they were teaching children about diversity in society and all the groups covered by the Equality Act.

From September 2020, it will be compulsory to teach relationships education for primary-age pupils and relationships and sex education (RSE) for secondary-age pupils.

The government says it wants primary schools to teach children about same sex relationships but, as with the rest of the curriculum, it would be up to them to decide when it was “age appropriate”.

The guidance for schools also says teaching should be “with respect to the backgrounds and beliefs of pupils and parents”.

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