LGBT teaching row: Government was too slow to tackle protests, says Sara Khan

Protests outside a school in Birmingham (Pic credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Protests outside a school in Birmingham (Pic credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

THE government as too slow to respond to protests over LGBT teaching outside Birmingham schools, said Sara Khan, the government’s chief adviser on countering extremism.

Khan told the BBC’s Panorama that the Department for Education “could have done so much more” and more support should have been given to head teachers dealing with demonstrations.

Likening portesters to a “mob”, Khan said: “I think they were too slow to respond. There’s a lot of confusion about what’s actually being taught and I think [the] DfE could have played a very important role in clarifying to parents this is what’s actually being taught, not the misinformation that we’re seeing out there.

“It’s a mob chanting and shouting and engaging in intimidating and threatening behaviour. And I think we have to recognise that and call it out for what it is.”

Protests kicked off at Parkfield Community School in February, with a section of parents calling for an end to the No Outsiders programme, which promotes gender equality. The programme covers same-sex relationships, gender identity, race, religion and colour.

The programme’s creator, Andrew Moffatt, said his aim was to introduce children to diversity in society.

“The aim of the programme was to find a way to teach children about the Equality Act 2010, developing an understanding of British values through an inclusive curriculum and school ethos,” he had said previously.

“A key element of the No Outsiders ethos is engagement with parents from the start, in order to promote solid foundations of tolerance that are matched both in and outside the school gates.”

Damian Hinds, the education secretary, told the BBC: “We want children to grow up understanding that some people are different, some relationships are different from what they may have experienced, but all are valuable.

“We trust individual schools, individual headteachers, to know their cohorts of children and to determine how and when to address what can be obviously sensitive subjects.”