The Birmingham school protests against LGBT-inclusive relationship lessons have been worsened by outside forces lying to parents, according to a mediator.
Human rights lawyer Nazir Afzal was brought in to broker peace between parents and school officials over lessons which taught young children about different types of families, including those with same-sex parents.
Revealing that talks have broken down, Afzal alleged that “outside forces… people who are not parents of pupils at the school” are perpetuating lies to parents, who fear that their children are being taught explicit sex education.
“I have looked at the curriculum and studied the books used. There is nothing remotely sexual in the content. Then I realised something more was at work,” he told BirminghamLive.
“There’s talk of grooming, talk of wanting to ‘take our kids’. It is malicious.”
—Human rights lawyer and mediator Nazir Afzal
Parents have been put “under pressure” to join in the Birmingham school protests, Afzal added, explaining that the “vast majority” support the school and want an end to the dispute.
Demonstrations have been taking place outside of Birmingham schools since March, with one—Anderton Park Primary—forced to close early on Friday (May 24) due to safety concerns around a mass gathering.
The event was organised by Shakeel Afsar, a man who does not have children at the school.
Birmingham school protester Shakeel Afsar (YouTube)
On May 22, Afsar told This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: “Parents feel that in primary school, we should be teaching our children about humanity, respect for humanity.
“Parents at the school shouldn’t feel like the school is over-promoting one narrative and not the other and we should try to make it transparent.”
Schools across Birmingham have insisted that the lessons simply place LGBT+ people on an equal footing, teaching children about same-sex parents as part of lessons on different families.
“Equality is a real strength of ours, the children talk about it all the time,” Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, headteacher of Anderton Park Primary School, told PinkNews on March 21.
She added that the school’s policy is to underline the Equality Act 2010.
“Part of the Equality Act is race and religion, so [we] can’t discriminate against different religions, so we will say to children: ‘Two ladies can get married, two men can get married, but your mums and dads may have a different view on that because of their religious beliefs… we respect people’s religious beliefs but you need to know that this is British law.’”