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Homophobic leaflets distributed at school amid LGBTI-inclusivity lessons row

Homophobic leaflet

Homophobic leaflets accusing LGBTI-inclusivity lessons of promoting a ‘gay ethos’ have been distributed outside a primary school in Birmingham.

The leaflets, which read ‘We do NOT agree with homosexuality’, were handed out outside Anderton Park School on Thursday (11 April).

The leaflets have emerged amid a row over LGBTI-inclusivity lessons at a separate primary school in Birmingham.

Parents in the majority-Muslim area have held protests and held petitions against pro-LGBTI ‘No Outsiders’ lessons at the nearby Parkfield Community School.

While the No Outsiders program is not taught at Anderton Park School, campaigners have said the lessons taught at each school are ‘the same’.

A local LGBTI rights advocate said he was ‘appalled’ by the leaflets.

A local parent involved in the campaign against the No Outsiders lessons also spoke out against the leaflets, calling them ‘inflammatory’ and ‘unhelpful’.

No Outsiders backlash 

The leaflets state that LGBTI-inclusivity lessons ‘promotes a whole-school gay ethos‘.

‘It teaches children it is OK to be gay in all religions… you can be gay and Muslim‘ one leaflet reads, saying that classes teach ‘4-year-old children that ‘they can be a boy or a girl’ and ‘teaches boys it is OK to marry your best friend ‘Abdul’‘.

The leaflet adds that the classes ‘discriminate against the beliefs of parents and children’, that the campaigners ‘do NOT believe in homosexuality’, and that ‘Parents do NOT want their children’s belief changed.’

The leaflets have caused a notable backlash, with some parents supportive of the campaign against LGBTI-inclusivity lessons distancing themselves from the rhetoric used in the leaflets.

One parent, who choose to remain anonymous, told BBC News: ‘We don’t want our children to be taught about same-sex couples, but we don’t endorse this inflammatory language that is unhelpful and offensive.’

Khakan Qureshi, an LGBT rights activist and gay Muslim, said the leaflets had left him ‘appalled’.

‘These protests and the misinformation shared has now gone beyond the initial concern of age-appropriate to blatant homophobia,’ he said.

Qureshi also called on Birmingham City Council to take action.

Ongoing dispute 

The row over LGBTI-inclusivity education in UK schools has been making headlines since January.

The No Outsiders program is designed to teach lessons topics such as same-sex relationships and gender identity through storybooks.

However, a number of local parents opposed the lessons, claiming that primary school children are too young for such material or that pro-LGBTI education stands in contrast to Islamic teachings.

In recent months, the Parkfield Parents’ Community Group have organized numerous demonstrations outside Parkfield Community School to protest the No Outsiders program.

The school has temporarily stopped teaching No Outsiders lessons and offered to open a dialogue with the parents, though the group maintained that the lessons were still being taught, and called on headteacher Hazel Pulley to resign.

Four other schools have halted their LGBTI-inclusivity lessons following the row.

LGBTI rights advocates, including LGBTI Muslim groups, have condemned the campaigners’ actions, with members of Birmingham’s LGBTI community saying the row had made them feel extremely vulnerable.

Human Rights Watch called for UK schools to ‘stand firm against these protests and support a curriculum inclusive of all children’.

The No Outsiders program has received the support from government education officials, and from the head of the UK’s school watchdog, Ofsted.

Praise for LGBTI-inclusivity education

The No Outsiders program was introduced by Parkfield Community School’s Assistant Headteacher, Andrew Moffat.

Moffat says he has received threats over the lessons, though maintains that the protestors are a small but vocal minority.

The teacher has been widely praised for his contribution to LGBTI education in UK schools, being shortlisted for a global teaching award and receiving an MBE in 2017.

In 2016, Ofsted inspectors ranked the school as ‘outstanding’, praising Moffat and his work in building LGBTI-inclusivity.

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Author: Calum Stuart