LGBT education row: Protests to restart outside Birmingham school

Parents and protestors demonstrate against  LGBT rights lessons outside a Birmingham school. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Parents and protestors demonstrate against LGBT rights lessons outside a Birmingham school. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Demonstrations against LGBT equality lessons at a Birmingham school will restart this Friday (13), with a protest organiser saying that “lots” of parents were planning to withdraw their children because of the school’s stance on LGBT education.

Shakeel Afsar, the protest co-ordinator, said the campaign against Anderton Park School in Sparkhill will continue as they were displeased with the school’s stance that “it’s okay to be gay.”

“We were intending not to resume the protests but the head teacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson recently tweeted an image of more LGBT books she had got for the school,” Afsar was quoted as saying by the Birmingham Mail. “I was inundated with calls from angry parents who saw this as provocative, so we will be back again on Friday.”

An injunction secured by Birmingham City Council that imposed an exclusion zone around Anderton Park Primary prevents protesters from gathering outside the school. But Afsar said protests would resume outside the injunction’s exclusion zone.

Since April, the school has seen regular protests, with campaigners said teaching young children about LGBT rights was not age appropriate.

However, the school’s headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson has stood by it’s inclusive curriculum.

“Equality is a real strength of ours, the children talk about it all the time,” she told PinkNews. “We want to usualise the language of equality.”

Hewitt-Clarkson added: “I am utterly passionate about all equality probably because I am a woman and, as an educator, I think if I don’t educate about these things then who will?”

The headteacher has also repeatedly called on ministers to voice their support for equality teaching.

In his first remarks on the subject since being appointed education secretary, Gavin Williamson said school gates were not places for protests.

Williamson also said the government will be providing support to schools facing protests.

“The purpose of it is we wanted to make sure every single school is able to teach about Britain as it is today – but also have the flexibility to ensure that it has an understanding of the communities which it operates in.”

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