More Birmingham schools drop LGBT classes, as fresh complaints surface in Manchester

Andrew Moffat teaching LGBT-inclusive lessons.

Four more Birmingham schools have dropped a programme of LGBT+ inclusive lessons, as it is revealed that parents have complained to seven primary schools in the Manchester area over sex education classes.

The four schools are suspending the No Outsiders programme, which was the subject of protests at the city’s Parkfield Community School, following complaints from parents with children of mostly Muslim background at the schools.

Parkfield Community School has dropped the project “until a resolution has been reached,” amid continued protests from some conservative religious parents with children at the school.

The No Outsiders programme, developed by Parkfield’s assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat, teaches children from nursery up to year six about all elements of the Equality Act 2010, which protects from discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, gender, age, disabilities, and sexual orientation.

The aim of No Outsiders, which is taught using 35 picture books, is to educate children about diversity in Britain.

LGBT-inclusive No Outsiders project is dropped by four more schools until “meaningful” discussions are had with parents

In a letter sent to parents on March 15, the Leigh Trust, which governs four Birmingham primary schools, said that the No Outsiders lessons have been suspended “until we are able to have meaningful and open discussions with the parents of all children in our schools.”

“We would like these meeting to be arranged in small groups to enable all parents to have the opportunity for open dialogue and to ensure a positive way forward with the delivery of the Equality Act,” the letter continues.

“[We] have made the decision to suspend the No Outsiders programme until we are able to have meaningful and open discussions with the parents of all children in our schools.”

—Leigh Trust

The schools operated by the Leigh Trust are: Alston Primary School, Wyndcliffe Primary School, Marlborough Infant School and Marlborough Junior School.

The Leigh Trust said in its letter that it is “proposing that these meetings take place after Ramadan,” which ends in June, because “we do not feel that we have enough time to offer meetings with parents of all of our children before the start of Ramadan.”

Protests at Birmingham school over LGBT-inclusive education

Protests at Parkfield Community School. (Facebook)

Alum Rock Community Forum, a group of residents in the Birmingham suburb, which is lobbying against the No Outsiders programme, welcomed the suspension of the classes on Facebook.

“We welcome the decision taken by Leigh Trust which runs 4 schools in East Birmingham, with almost 100% Muslim pupil population, to immediately SUSPEND the NO OUTSIDERS programme in their schools until full meaningful and open discussions take place with parents,” the group said.

Earlier in March, an Ofsted report found that there is “no evidence” that the PSHE education and equalities curriculum at Parkfield are “not taught in an age-appropriate manner.”

Parents complains to seven primary schools in Manchester over sex education lessons

Meanwhile, in Manchester, the Guardian reports that parents have complained to seven primary schools in Greater Manchester over sex education lessons that include teaching of LGBT+ relationships.

The newspaper reports that, while these seven schools do not teach the No Outsiders programme, the parents, which are mainly from a Muslim background, are concerned about the government’s plans to reform the sex education curriculum in the UK.

The schools listed by the Guardian include William Hulme grammar school in Whalley Range and Acacias community primary school in Burnage.

In March 2017, the government passed the Children and Social Work Act (2017), which pledges to make Relationships Education (RE) and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in all schools in England.

As part of this, the government is updating the sex education guidance, which was last reviewed in 2000, when the anti-LGBT+ Section 28 banning the “promotion” of homosexuality was still in place.

While the latest draft guidance specifically mentions LGBT people, Stonewall has said that “there were still areas where it risked failing to meet the needs of LGBT young people.”

In September 2017, a study by sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust found that 95 percent of young people have never learned about LGBT sex and relationships (SRE) in UK schools.

This is despite nearly half (49 percent) of students aged between 18 and 24 identifying as something other than heterosexual.