In The South

“Education not indoctrination”- removing the LGBT+ from Education

Craig Hanlon-Smith March 21, 2019

Anti-LGBT+ sentiment would appear to be growing as a result of the Birmingham Primary Schools education row.

What started with Parkfield Community School in Alum Rock Birmingham, has now spread to at least four schools across the city and politicians from across the party spectrum are voicing their concerns on both sides of the debate.

Parkfield Community School found itself at the centre of parent led protests when on Friday March 1 80% of the children of this Ofsted rated ‘outstanding’ school were retained at home. The school had designed and delivered a programme it called No Outsiders, a programme concerned with inclusion and the acceptance of LGBT+ people as equal members of the wider community. One of the assistant head teachers at the school and a personal pioneer of the programme, had been threatened and verbally abused by parents at the school and local religious and community leaders had spoken out against the programme.

Following a withdrawal of the curriculum, the school has claimed it had always intended to rest the programme of learning but has now announced it has no further plans to deliver this aspect the curriculum.

This follows public statements from local MP Shabana Mahmood who, whilst proclaiming her support for the rights of the LGBT+ communities and citing her record on related parliamentary voting, stated that it is the parents who in her words should decide “how their kids would be taught, and at what stage”.

Four other Birmingham schools have now cancelled their LGBT+ inclusion programmes including the Leigh Trust school who are the latest to suspend the No Outsiders programme, and schools in Manchester are rumoured to be considering following suit.

No Outsiders had served to educate children on diverse groups within wider society and in no way included or was part of a sex education curriculum. It did highlight LGBT+ identities and same gender relationships in a non-sexual context.

Andrew Moffat
Andrew Moffat

Labour MP Jess Phillips who leads a neighbouring constituency spoke out in support of the programme as protestors took to the streets. Parents handed out leaflets commenting upon the perceived sexual orientation of Parkfield Deputy Mr. Andrew Moffat who is a Birmingham based co-author of the campaign. Children also protested flanked by their parents, but it was the children who were seen holding aloft banners that read: “Say no to undermining parental rights and authority”, “Let kids be kids” and “Education not indoctrination”.

Andrea Leadsom MP
Andrea Leadsom MP

The debate has now firmly landed in the lap of the government thanks to an LBC interview with Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom MP. Ms Leadsom stated on air that parents should decide when their children are “exposed” to LGBT+ matters as part of their education, echoing comments made by Margaret Thatcher in 1988 ahead of the implementation of the now much maligned and defunct Clause/Section 28.

Her remarks drew considerable ire from opposition MPs and from members of the LGBT+ communities on social media. Andrea Leadsom thought to be a potential contender to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister stated in 2016 that she had “not liked” same-sex marriage legislation as it “hurt Christians”.

At the Conservative Party conference in 2002, Theresa May then recently appointed chair-person stated in her speech to conference “There’s a lot we need to do in this party of ours. You know what some people call us? The nasty party”.