Birmingham & Black Country

Parkfield School LGBT lessons 'not axed' despite protests

Andrew Moffat
Image caption Andrew Moffat said the No Outsiders project was about community cohesion

The assistant head of a school at the centre of a row about teaching LGBT rights said the classes have not been axed for good despite parent protests.

The No Outsiders project was halted after demonstrations outside Parkfield Community School in Birmingham.

But Andrew Moffat said the school was now re-engaging with parents and said the lessons "prepare children for life in modern Britain".

Parents protested outside the school for the fourth time on Thursday.

They believe the subject is "undermining parental rights and authority" and have said the lessons are "toxic" and "disgusting".

Mr Moffat said the No Outsiders programme "hasn't been axed at all" and said they decided to stop the lessons to allow the school "to re-engage with our parents".

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Media captionParents protested at the school for the fourth time on Thursday

Speaking to BBC WM, Mr Moffat also said there had been a "misconception" about the project, which he developed in 2014.

"People are worried about the way the government are proposing to change sex relationship education in the UK and people are mixing that up with No Outsiders," he said.

"No Outsiders isn't about sex education. It's about community cohesion, British values, it's about people getting along and co-existing."

Mr Moffat said the protests had been "frustrating" after the lessons and parent workshops had worked "fantastically" over the past four years.

He added: "I have a reservoir of hope to get this community to work together.

"No Outsiders prepares children for life in modern Britain."

Mr Moffat will find out this weekend if he is the winner of a $1m global teaching prize in Dubai.

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Media captionLead campaigner Amir Ahmed says morally, homosexuality is not "a valid sexual relationship"

In a letter sent to parents on Wednesday, the school said the row had damaged "both children's education and wider community relations".

Ofsted previously ruled that the lessons at Parkfield were age-appropriate.

Four other Birmingham schools have also stopped teaching about LGBT rights following complaints by parents.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, the head teacher of Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham, said she would persist with equality lessons despite several protests.

"Equality is the cornerstone of British society," she said. "We don't want a situation where only some pupils are able to read certain books, which have been locked away in a cabinet."

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Media captionLabour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle criticises "bigots that don't want LGBT people to be heard in schools"

Analysis

By Sima Kotecha, Midlands Correspondent

The message is spreading and a growing number of parents from various schools across Birmingham are vocally taking part in the debate.

But as we learnt earlier in the week, parents in Greater Manchester are also now protesting to have their children taking out of sex and relationship lessons over fears they'll be taught about same sex couples.

This is not a one faith row. Yes, Muslims in Birmingham are the dominant protesters, but people from the Christian and Jewish community have also travelled to the city from other parts of the country to give their support to their overriding message: that homosexuality does not form part of the traditional concept of marriage and should not be introduced to children as young as four.

The LGBT community is angry and hurt and there is an overwhelming feeling from many that at the heart of this debate is prejudice and homophobia.

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