An online media frenzy has erupted in Britain over the merits and flaws of teaching school children about gay and transgender rights.
The debates emerge as a group of angry Muslim parents have spent several days protesting outside of a school in Birmingham against their children being taught about LGBT rights and homophobia, according to the Guardian.
In ‘Spiked' magazine, one author says that, "children should read books with great literary qualities, rather than books whose sole merit is that they represent gay and transgender people." In contrast, Fiyaz Mughal, a Muslim, writes in the Independent that if "we're [Muslims] defended against bigotry, so must the LGBT+ community."
Parkfield Community School — which has a sizeable Muslim student population and where most are aged between 7 and 12 — has reportedly been teaching its pupils about homosexuality as part of what it calls a "special" school programme on equality.
Yet, a number of local parents, who are predominantly Muslim, argue that the programme is unnecessary, and contradicts the teachings of the Islamic religion. One of the parents, Mariam Ahmed, has allegedly managed to garner a total of 400 parental signatures on a petition to have the curriculum banned from the school.
— Ken Cavanagh (@ken_cavanagh) 31 January 2019
Miss Ahmed has also spent her days recently distributing a handout outside the school's gates to raise awareness about what's going on inside the classrooms, the opening line of which reads, "Brothers and sisters, is it OK for your children to be gay?"
Another local parent, Fatima Shah, told the Guardian that the programme, which is called ‘No Outsiders,' is "totally wrong."
"Children are being told it's OK to be gay, yet 98% of the children at this school are Muslim. It's a Muslim community…We don't send our children to school to learn about LGBT. We send them to school to learn maths, science and English," she reportedly added.
— Dil Nawaz (@bradistancallin) 31 January 2019
Andrew Moffat, the assistant headteacher of the school and the man who introduced the initiative, has allegedly defended its implementation and claims to have been threatened by angry parents. According to reports, he claims that the purpose of No Outsiders is to welcome people of any colour, creed or sexuality into the school.
"We want all children in Birmingham to know that their family is normal; that their family is accepted and welcomed in schools," the Daily Mail quotes him as saying.
Mr. Moffat is said to have resigned from a school post in 2013 over a similar incident, in which Christian, rather than Muslim, parents complained that his teaching syllabus was inappropriate for children of a primary school age.
— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) 28 January 2019
— 🇺🇸🇬🇧🇮🇱Lashkar-e-LearnToCode (@JudgeFudge5) 30 January 2019
Previously, a Birmingham city councillor, Mohammed Idrees, was slammed for supporting the protesting parents, reportedly arguing that the children were "too young" to be taught about homosexuality. He has since retracted his comments and apologised, but was reported to the Birmingham City Council's Standards Committee by an openly gay Conservative party colleague.
— Zack (@Zack44069414) 28 January 2019