LGBTI people in Birmingham have ‘never felt move vulnerable’
Members of LGBTI Birmingham’s community said they have ‘never felt move vulnerable’.
The comments were made at an open meeting to discuss a row over LGBTI-inclusivity lessons at a local primary school.
There have been numerous protests outside the Parkfield Community School in Birmingham over the school’s No Outsiders program.
The program is designed to teach lessons topics such as same-sex relationships and gender identity through storybooks and was introduced by teacher, Andrew Moffat.
The demonstrations, which have been comprised of several hundred people, have been organized by local parents in the Muslim-majority area who feel that primary school children are too young to learn about LGBTI issues.
Opponents of No Outsiders have labeled lessons as ‘toxic’ and ‘disgusting’, and that they ‘[undermine] parental rights and authority’.
The protests have been condemned by LGBTI rights organizations, including local Muslim groups.
Local police have said that the protests do not constitute hate speech, though have come ‘very close’ on occasions.
‘Conversations are just starting’
Around 100 people attended the open meeting in Birmingham’s gay village on Thursday (28 March).
The meeting included members of Birmingham’s LGBTI community, some of the parents, and representatives of the local police, BBC News reports.
At the meeting, the majority of LGBTI attendees agreed that they felt increasingly threatened, anxious and frightened.
Local equal rights group Birmingham LGBT said there had been a rise in hate crimes in the city.
Insp Matt Crowley said that while the protests did not constitute a hate crime, they had come ‘very close to that line’.
The meeting was organized by Ann Sawyer and Saima Razzaq from the Supporting Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools (SEEDS) campaign.
‘Hate comes from ignorance and we’ve been trying to dispel that ignorance by sharing our lives,’ Sawyer said.
Razzaq added that: ‘Clearly there were bigots, but [the protests were] pitting two marginalized communities against each other,’ and that ‘conversations are just starting, it’s going to take many years.’
Earlier this month, Parkfield Community School announced that it would stop the lessons ‘until a resolution has been reached’.
Four other Birgminham schools followed the move by also halting their classes on LGBTI-inclusivity.
However, Moffat has said that the program has not been scrapped, and is only on a temporary hiatus.
The controversy surrounding protests against the No Outsiders program has been making headlines since January.
The issue has led to an increased discussion about the importance of LGBTI-inclusivity education in the UK’s public schools.
Numerous LGBTI rights advocates and members of education organizations have come out in support of lessons on LGBTI equality.
The UK’s education minister, Damian Hinds, has expressed his support to LGBTI-inclusivity lessons.
The No Outsiders classes have also been praised by the UK’s school watchdog, Ofsted.
However, a number of people have also spoken out against including LGBTI education in the UK’s school.
Conservative politician and Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, said it was ‘absolutely right’ parents should have the right to remove children up to a certain age from classes about LGBTI rights.
Local Labour councilor, Mohammed Idrees, also came out in support of the parents in January.
Awarded for progressing LGBTI education
Moffat, Parkfield Community School’s Assistant Headteacher, introduced the No Outsiders program around four years ago.
He says that he has received threats for teaching the program, though maintains the protests only represent a small minority of parents.
Moffat has introduced similar LGBTI-inclusivity lessons in various schools around the UK.
The teacher has received widespread praise for his work in LGBTI education.
He was awarded an MBE in 2017 and shortlisted for a global teaching award earlier this year.
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Author: Calum Stuart