A primary school that taught students as young as 4 about LGBT lifestyles has stopped the lessons after hundreds of children were kept home by their parents to protest what they described as the “aggressive” promotion of homosexuality.
The Guardian reports that Parkfield community school in Saltley, Birmingham, U.K., organized a program aimed at children aged 4-11 titled “No Outsiders” which taught that “families look different,” in an effort to teach young students about homosexuality. In the program, students read books with titles such as Mommy, Mama and Me and King & King — stories about same-sex relationships and marriages.
But after 600 children were taken out of classes at the school, where the majority of its students follow Islam, the school announced it had decided to suspend the program.
In a letter to parents, the school said: “Up to the end of this term, we will not be delivering any No Outsiders lessons in our long-term year curriculum plan, as this half term has already been blocked for religious education. Equality assemblies will continue as normal and our welcoming No Outsiders ethos will be there for all.”
The program was created by assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat, who said the pro-“tolerance” plan was essential to “preparing children for modern Britain.” Moffat, who is gay, was ”awarded an MBE for his work in equality education and is also in the running for a major international teaching award,” according to The Guardian.
He resigned from a previous teaching post at another school after Christian parents complained about his LGBT-affirming curriculum, the Daily Mail reports.
Last month, Parkfield community school received a letter with over 400 signatures from parents, mostly Muslim, calling for the program to be pulled. When the school refused to comply, parents protested outside the building and eventually pulled their children from classes.
The Alum Rock Community Forum, representing parents in the majority Muslim suburb, said children were being kept home as a result of the school “undermining parental rights and aggressively promoting homosexuality.”
“Dialogue, petitioning and protests by parents have been repeated and arrogantly ignored. Our children, our choice — work with parents not against them,” the forum told Birmingham Live.
Father Abdul Ma told the Sun newspaper: “This is a brainwash. We bring our children here so they can later work as a solicitor or a teacher, not to be taught about being gay or a lesbian.”
Fatima Shah, a mother of students at the school, told the BBC that what was being taught is not “age-appropriate,” as “promoting homosexuality” in the classroom was “confusing children.”
“Children are coming home, girls are asking whether it is true they can be boys, boys as young as 4 asking whether it is true we can be girls. There is no need for it,” she said.
“We are not a bunch of homophobic mothers,” she told The Guardian. “We just feel that some of these lessons are inappropriate. Some of the themes being discussed are very adult and complex and the children are getting confused.
“They need to be allowed to be children rather than having to constantly think about equalities and rights.”
The classes will reportedly be postponed until at least the Easter break is over and after parents have been consulted.
The decision didn’t sit well with everyone: Humanists UK, which promotes sex education in schools, called the school’s decision to pull the program “deeply worrying,” arguing that it is “vital that all young people, some of whom will be LGBT themselves, grow up with age-appropriate information as to the facts of life and the virtue of tolerance.”
Recently, the U.K. Department of Education announced all state schools will be required to teach children about relationships and sex education, including LGBT issues, from September 2020. Under the new guidelines, head teachers can “overrule” parents who want to opt their children out of sex education classes.
The guidance also tells teachers to encourage students to question their religious beliefs about homosexuality. Questions to ask children include: “Can people of the same sex love one another? Is this OK? What are the different kinds of families and partnerships? What do the words ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’ mean?”
In a statement, Colin Hart, chairman of the Coalition for Marriage, called the lessons “completely unacceptable.”
“No one objects to the government trying to make children safer online by teaching them about internet trolls and about the dangers of social media, however, the plan to downgrade marriage — and sideline parents whilst doing it is completely unacceptable,” he said.
“The Department for Education is sidelining traditional marriage, the most stable form of relationship for raising children and forcing them to learn about every other form of relationship under the sun, even when it is not age-appropriate. The law should encourage traditional marriage, not undermine it.”