2 Christian students suspended for alleged homophobic comments; parents outraged

Wikimedia Commons/Ludovic Bertron

Two 10-year-old Christian students were suspended for five days last month after they were accused of using “homophobic” language when objecting to an LGBT Pride Month primary school assignment. 

The Christian Legal Centre reports that Susan Papas, the head of the Heavers Farm Primary School in South London, was reported to local authorities by parents of 10-year-olds Farrell Spence and Kaysey Francis-Austin.

The parents insist that the children did not make any homophobic remarks when asking a “visitor teacher” to be excused from an LGBT-themed assignment on June 20th. But the children were accused of saying that they wanted to kill LGBT people, a claim the children strongly deny. 

According to The Daily Mail, letters sent to the children’s parents said that the unnamed visiting teacher claimed that the children said: “gay people should die.” 

Kaysey was accused of saying that gay people “have let the devil into them and they need to be killed.” Farrell was accused of saying that gay people should “die or go to prison.” 

According to the Christian Legal Centre, the incident began when Farrell objected an LGBT coloring assignment. Farrell told the “visitor teacher” that he was a Christian and did not want to take part in the assignment. However, the teacher allegedly refused to excuse Farrell from the assignment, saying that the lesson was part of the curriculum. 

Sitting with Kasay at the time, Farrell told the teacher that he did not “accept LGBT” because he is a Christian. The teacher asked both children if they want LGBT people to die. Farrell allegedly said that they do not want LGBT people to die but told the teacher that they could be punished for being gay if they went back to their countries.

Farrell told the teacher that he was from “African and Jamaican” heritage, where “everybody is Christian and Catholic” and “don’t accept LGBT.”

After class, the teacher is said to have accused Farrell of saying “LGBT sucks and LGBT is dumb.” However, the child denies making those statements.

The students accused headteacher Susan Papas of yelling at them in front of the class and later calling them a “disappointment to the school.” 

Papas then put Kasay and Farrell in different rooms. 

"How dare you say that you want to kill LGBT people?” Papas reportedly asked Kasay. 

Kasay replied by saying that she didn’t say she wanted to kill LGBT people. However, Papas allegedly insisted that she did. 

Represented by the Christian Legal Centre, parents of both children complained to the local officer in charge of exclusion prevention with letters citing paragraph 13 of the Department of Education’s 2017 exclusions guidance that explains that “It is unlawful to exclude for a non-disciplinary reason.”

The parents — Karen Francis-Austin and Lisa Spence —also insist that their children’s versions of the incident are supported by other children present in the classroom. The parents stress that the headteacher must “apply the civil standard of proof.” 

“[T]he imposition of a 5-day exclusion lacks both the necessary proportionality and fairness ... required to justify such a lengthy punishment,” the parents wrote in their letters to Papas, according to the Christian Legal Centre.   

“You have acted in a manner contrary to the school’s Equality Duty; precisely the duty to eliminate discrimination based on religion or belief and to foster good relations among those with protected characteristics.” 

The parents have also asked that their children be “excused from any further teaching or activities which involve the promotion of LGBT campaigning points.” The parents cited Section 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which states that “schools must have regard to the principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents”

In a statement provided to The Daily Mail, the school defended the suspensions. 

“We will not tolerate any violence, or the threat of it, against any members of our community and we will always take necessary steps to protect our pupils, staff and visitors,” the statement reads. 

In a video posted to YouTube on June 30, Kaysay assured that she is not homophobic but explained that she is “against putting [the LGBT agenda] in schools and teaching it to children.” 

“I think that they are trying to confuse children into saying, ‘What are you?’” Kaysay said. “Because before anyone knew what LGBT meant, everybody knew what gender they were and now people are confused.”

“Some people by the age of four are saying that they don’t want to be a girl anymore or don’t want to be a boy anymore,” she added. “That’s because schools and nurseries are trying to say to children that it is OK to become something else that you are not.” 

This is not the first time that Papas has come under fire from parents for her promotion of LGBT Pride in school. 

Last year, parents called for Papas to resign after she planned a Pride march at the school in June 2018. Although the march was canceled, it was instead held as a smaller event inside the school. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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