LGBT teaching row: 'Homophobic' video investigated
Written by The Newsroom on August 1, 2019
An apparent “homophobic” video and far-right material linked to protests against LGBT relationship lessons are being investigated by police.
The clip, which refers to a “campaign against Muslims” and claims primary schools are teaching children about sex, was circulated via WhatsApp.
It has also emerged that anti-Islam material was sent to one Birmingham school at the centre of the protests.
West Midlands Police said it was reviewing “a large amount” of material.
No arrests have been made.
An officer from anti-terrorism scheme Prevent said the issue was “being exploited by extremist groups”.
“We believe both Islamist and far-right activists are using the protests to foster division between communities,” the officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
The video refers to protests against relationships and sex education (RSE) lessons held in Birmingham earlier this year.
It was reported to police by Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, head teacher of one school at the centre of the protests, who described it as “homophobic”.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, the head teacher of Anderton Park Primary, in Balsall Heath, said: “I think it’s a police matter because it’s clearly homophobic, it incites hatred towards gay people.”
She branded claims children were taught about “any kind of sex” as “ridiculous”.
Ms Hewitt-Clarkson said the school had also received anti-Muslim and far-right material, which she referred to Prevent and the police.
The row over RSE – which becomes compulsory from September 2020 – has spread to other cities.
After protests began in Birmingham, schools across England received letters opposing the classes.
The head teacher of a London primary school – who wished to remain anonymous – told Newsnight more than 100 children at her school had been withdrawn from similar classes.
Last year “only a handful” were taken out of lessons, she said.
‘Children’s homophobic comments’
She said the majority of parents who objected were Christians.
The backlash had made her concerned for pupils’ safety, she said.
“I’ve seen a change in behaviour of particular children being homophobic in their comments towards others in the playground,” she said.
The Department for Education said RSE was a “vital” subject and schools would be supported to deliver lessons “to a high standard”.
It said it was working closely with schools that had volunteered to introduce the subject next month, and was setting up a working group including parents, young people and representatives of faith and minority groups to consider the delivery of the lessons.
Parents with concerns were urged to “talk to their child’s school in a calm and constructive way”.
Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Birmingham and Black Country