Birmingham MP Jess Phillips has taken to social media to condemn the decisions of Parkfield School to suspend their ‘No Outsiders’ Programme.
The programme, run alongside sex and relationship (SRE) lessons, was founded by the school’s gay vice principal Andrew Moffat. It aimed to educate children on LGBT+ issues in order to promote equality and challenge homophobia and targeted bullying.
Moffat was awarded an MBE for his work in equality education and is also the author of Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools. Having resigned from another primary school in the wake of similar protests, Moffatt has been faced with a similar dispute.
Children aged between four and 11 were being taught five ‘No Outsiders’ lessons per year, each one covering topics to meet the requirements in the UK Equality Act (an Act which legally protects people from discrimination both in the workplace and in wider society). Books about same-sex parents such as Mommy, Mama and Me were being read to students.
Last month, Moffat was forced to defend the new programme after over 400 predominantly Muslim parents signed a petition calling for it to be dropped from the curriculum.
On Friday last week, approximately 600 children were withdrawn from school for the whole day, with some parents stating that “we bring our children here so they can later work as a solicitor or teacher, not be taught about being gay and lesbian” and “they need to be allowed to be children rather than having to constantly think about equalities and rights.”
Schools give children a window to the world, they teach tolerance and respect and my sons school have clearly done a brilliant job. It won't make him be a Muslim anymore than I can make him clean his room. https://t.co/jwEnry1Men
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) March 5, 2019
In response, the lessons have now been suspended until the end of term. A letter to the parents from the trustee board of Excelsior Multi Academy Trust, which runs the school, concluded: “The agreed outcome of the meeting was the need to have a discussion with the school community about the ‘No Outsiders’ curriculum and how it should be delivered.”
After hearing the news, MP Jess Phillips told her Twitter followers: “I feel bereft about this, materials are in no way sexualised or inappropriate (…) knowing about existence is not inappropriate.”
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