Protests have resumed at a primary school in Birmingham amid claims LGBTI inclusivity issues were still being discussed with pupils.
Parkfield Community School has seen various demonstrations over past months regarding the ‘No Outsiders’ program which teaches lessons on LGBTI inclusivity.
Protests ended last week after school officials said the program would be put on hold indefinitely.
However, over 250 people began demonstrating outside the school gates on Thursday (22 March), the BBC reports.
The protests have outraged equal rights advocates.
Human Rights Watch called on the school to continue the LGBTI-inclusivity lessons, saying that religious beliefs ‘cannot be used to override the rights of LGBT children’.
‘These policies contribute to bullying and, violence, and can leave already vulnerable children feeling like their existence is a mistake,’ the group said.
Assistant Headteacher Andrew Moffat, who introduced the program, has said that ‘No Outsiders’ had not been axed for good.
‘Our children, our choice’
Last week, the school said it was stopping ‘No Outsiders’ until an agreement was reached with local parents.
However, protestors say that discussions on LGBTI issues and same-sex relationships are still ongoing in the school.
Organizers of the Parkfield Parents’ Community Group have called on headteacher Hazel Pulley to resign, alleging that she ‘cannot keep her word’.
A number of local parents from the majority-Muslim community object to the lessons on religious grounds.
Protestors have also labeled the lessons as ‘toxic’, and not age-appropriate for primary school children.
‘We still stand where we were before,’ said Fatima Shah, a protestor whose child attends Parkfield school.
‘We want No Outsiders to stop. Our children, our choice,’ she added.
Following the earlier protests, four more UK schools stopped teaching the No Outsiders program.
Moffat also said that the program ‘hasn’t been axed at all’, but put on hold while ‘[re-engaging] with our parents’.
‘These policies contribute to bullying and violence’
LGBTI rights advocates, including LGBTI Muslim groups, have condemned the protests.
This week Human Rights Watch released a statement saying that UK schools should: ‘stand firm against these protests and support a curriculum inclusive of all children.’
The group said that religious beliefs cannot override the rights of LGBTI students, and discussed cases where LGBTI education has been stifled such as in Russia and Japan.
‘Human Rights Watch has seen the effects in other countries of banning positive discussions about homosexuality and other “non-traditional” relationships.
‘These policies contribute to bullying and violence, and can leave already vulnerable children feeling like their existence is a mistake.’
The ‘No Outsiders’ program has also received the support from government education officials, and from the head of the UK’s school watchdog, Ofsted.
Praised for introducing LGBTI-inclusivity lessons in UK schools
Parkfield Community School has been in the headlines since January due to the backlash over ‘No Outsiders’ lessons.
Moffat says he has received threats over the lessons, though claims the protestors are a small but vocal minority.
In 2016, Ofsted inspectors ranked the school as ‘outstanding’, praising Moffat and his work in building LGBTI-inclusivity.
Author: Calum Stuart
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