An East London Muslim parents group has denied that “homophobic statements” were made at its recent conference after a local newspaper published an investigation into the event.
An article by Charles Thomson in the Romford Recorder on February 2, entitled “Anti-gay ‘fundamentalist’ lectures Parents United conference,” reported that Muslim educator Yusuf Patel as well as a speaker from a Christian group addressed the conference in November.
It alleged that Mr Patel said “all children should be taught that homosexuality is a sin which can be reversed through repentance.” And the other speaker reportedly lectured parents on how to oppose “the LGBT agenda.”
During the conference, Muslim parents pledged to pull their children out of schools unless LGBT content is introduced in a way that respects the religious and cultural background of their kids.
Parents United have issued the following statement about the Romford Recorder article:
“On 5th November 2022 Parents United held its first in-person conference. The conference was born from complaints raised by concerned parents around the lack of faith-sensitivities and age-appropriateness in relation to RSE lessons and wider curriculum when discussing LGBT relations in school. The event was open to all in and around the Redbridge area. Please see full report here.
“The event hosted a range of speakers from organisations who are working in a similar sphere. Due diligence was carried out on all speakers, including selecting a speaker who was from an organisation that was launched in the House of Lords.
“Following the publication of the conference key points and report, several articles were written about the conference, Parents United as an organisation and all of the speakers. For one such article, PU was contacted prior to the article being published. The journalist requested a response by 30th September; however, the article was published very shortly after initial contact. PU were not provided adequate time to refute statements made in the article, including but not limited to statements claiming that speakers made homophobic statements at the conference. However, at no time during the conference were such comments made.
“Parents United stands against all forms of hate and would not tolerate any such statements to be made at any time, especially in relation to our work.
We are working to ensure that the article is removed or at the least changed to represent a true reflection of the conference held on 5th November.
“We will continue to provide a safe space for the Muslim community to have their concerns heard and find productive ways to engage with their schools on this and every part of the curriculum.
“We thank the community for their on-going support and work in ensuring that all rights are recognised, respected and that all voices are heard.”
Parents United was formed in 2020 in response to concerns about Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) teaching in schools.
Its conference in November last year heard complaints from Muslim parents about schools ignoring faith-sensitivity whilst teaching topics under RSE which, in some cases, went beyond RSE requirements.
Among other things, Parents United are demanding that schools should:
- Launch fresh consultations with the involvement of the community on RSE policies in order to be compliant with regulations.
- Show and agree all resources with parents before introduction into classrooms.
- Be transparent about when/how RSE is taught and the weighting of attention to LGBT and other protected characteristics.
- Encourage children to debate a range of controversial issues without presenting one view as correct.
Parents United are also demanding that the local council launch a review of materials allowed in schools under safeguarding and grooming concerns.