Birmingham LGBT school row: Parents' reaction 'bitter'

Written by on June 25, 2019

Some parents’ reaction to a row over LGBT teaching has been “increasingly bitter and polarised”, an MP has said.

Roger Godsiff, whose Birmingham constituency covers one of the schools involved, spoke during a Commons debate on the issue.

He applauded what he said were 256 schools in the city which had “got the teaching right”, while two schools seemed to have “gone very wrong”.

“Parents were entirely excluded” from consultation on the teaching, he said.

The row, sparked by storybooks featuring different families, has caused protests outside schools in Birmingham since January.

Whip’s warning

Mr Godsiff has previously supported protesters outside the school gates.

The Labour MP for Hall Green was given a warning by Labour’s chief whip, Nick Brown, on 14 June not to repeat his support for the protesters outside Anderton Park Primary School.

They argue that pupils are “too young” to learn about LGBT relationships, which they also say contradict Islam.

During the debate, Mr Godsiff said: “I do not accept the argument where there couldn’t have been parents’ meetings at the [two schools involved].”

‘Breakdown of trust’

He added: “… I came to the conclusion that the parents that were protesting had some valid reasons for doing so, as the head teacher seemed totally unwilling to have meetings with parents to address their concerns and seek a comprise way of resolving the conflict.”

The MP also criticised the head teacher of Anderton Park Primary School – Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson – for what he said were tweets that contributed to a “breakdown of trust” between the school and parents.

He said: “To call parents who are participating in highly organised police supervised protests a ‘mob’ which needs to be ‘sorted’; which accuses Muslim parents, mostly young women, of ‘homophobic hatred’… I don’t think that is helpful in reducing tension.”

Mr Godsiff said the protesters were “mostly young mothers who have done nothing wrong than be good mothers who want to express concerns about what their children are telling them”.

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