What price would you pay to protect the values of your children?

Yusuf Patel from SREIslamic explains how a coalition of Muslim and other faith group parents are taking the government to court to reinstate the right to withdraw our children from sex education classes.

As a community we have a tendency to accept decisions from those in authority without a fight.

Often our only response is to make the appropriate changes to our lives and the lives of our children. This underscores our position as beholden to those in power.

But through these practical alterations to our lives, we psychologically instil acceptance of our position as subjects and we pass this mentality onto our children.

When the Children and Social Work Act 2017 was passed into law, it compelled all schools to teach Relationships Education in primary schools and Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools.

We called upon the community to respond to the consultations but the responses were largely ignored by government. Petitions were signed, postcards sent, our desire to raise our children in line with our Islamic values spurred us on to take on every fight.

But the regulations were passed last year with very little opposition from MPs, including Muslim MPs.

This robbed parents of their right to withdraw. It wasn’t enough for the government to impose statutory Relationships Education (RE) and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in schools, it also downgraded our right to withdraw. This has always been a trump card parents can use when schools decide to teach too much too soon.

No right to withdraw

Since September 2020 parents no longer have the right to withdraw their kids from Relationships Education in primary and secondary schools. This new arrangement forces parents to beg our children’s secondary school head teachers to allow us to withdraw them from sex education classes.

Although the regulations brought into force statutory guidance, despite setting out a legal requirement for schools to consult parents what happens to schools that don’t?

LGBT inclusive lesson in a state school in Scotland. [Photo: Diversity Role Models]
Although schools have to have regard to the age and religious background of pupils when planning RE, RSE, HE, what penalties prevent schools that implement a tick box consultation process? What safeguards are in place to prevent schools using inappropriate resources?

Sadly, there are no penalties and safeguards.

For example, one local authority in London (in an area with a large cohort of Muslim children) is recommending that all the schools in its patch teach Year One pupils the names of the sexual parts of the body when there is no requirement to do so under the existing statutory requirements.

This has forced parents to fight individual battles for their rights in schools and the power dynamic between the headteacher and parents is hugely stacked against parents.

We cannot allow this to continue

I remember speaking to tens of thousands of Muslim parents over the phone, at the 85 events we held across the country in 2019 and subsequently. Muslim parents are rightly angry; but it is not enough just to feel angry. We have to do something about it.

And an opportunity has arisen to do just that.

Earlier this year, the “Let Kids Be Kids Coalition” was set up to join together faith organisations working within different communities. They resolved to launch and fund a judicial review against the Department for Education. They are confident that they have a strong legal basis to challenge the government.

Mothers peacefully protesting outside Anderton Park School in Birmingham. [Photo: Birmingham Mail]
The case is seeking, amongst other matters, to challenge:

  • The removal of the parental right to withdraw so that it is fully reinstated.
  • The guidance, which opposes fundamental parental rights.

The case includes Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim parents.

As you know a judicial review is not cheap. There’ll be many stages, attempts as well as rejections. They will do what they can to ensure they are not challenged. They will rely on their power, money and resources and they will calculate that parents are not concerned about this issue.

We are trying to challenge the government and secure ultimate victory – a reinstatement of the right of parents to fully withdraw. Along the way there will be many smaller victories to be achieved. This court action is a fight back for all of the times we’ve just accepted decisions about us that ignore us.

One example of a small victory was the clarification about the status of teaching LGBT relationships in primary schools on 24 September 2020. The requirement to consult was restated in firmer terms, there was a clarification on inappropriate resources and the process of withdrawal in secondary schools was made more concrete, amongst many other matters addressed.

It is very clear that this response from government was forced by LKBKC’s judicial review.

What you can practically do 

That is where you come in. We have resolved to support this judicial review financially. We are looking to raise £100,000 to successfully fight this legal case.

When you contemplate how much you will give to support this case. Please consider the following question: What price would you pay to protect the values of your children?

To access the Crowd Justice fundraising page and to find out more about the case please visit here. 

To contribute towards this legal fight go to:

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/sre-islamic-lkbkc-please-help/ 

https://www.sreislamic.org/category/judicial-review/

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