Parents at a school in Sussex are revolting – because an anti-bullying lesson will teach them that transgender people exist.

Emma Maltby, the headdteacher of St Mary the Virgin Primary School, has spoken out to defend lessons on tolerance that would have touched on LGBT issues.

The school had informed parents in advance about the discussion, using a toolkit designed by anti-bullying charity Allsorts Youth Project to “empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people to take a lead in raising awareness and challenge prejudice and discrimination”.

However, parents ran to the Daily Mail to complain that the issue was “nonsense” – with one parent claiming their children are “under threat”. Three families withdrew their children from school.

One ‘concerned mother’ vented: “I don’t want my daughter being exposed to all this nonsense.

“Kids need to be left alone when it comes to things like this, they just want to run around the playground not be told they need to “think differently” about gender issues.

“The whole thing is ridiculous and I hope the head gets the message and scraps it.”

However, Ms Maltby told the East Grinstead Courier insisted the discussions were entirely age-appropriate.

She said: “As part of the national curriculum, we spend time talking to the children about British values of tolerance, respect and celebrating differences.

“One of the areas we will be discussing shortly is gender identity, and we felt that it was important to involve parents in their child’s learning by holding an information session.

“We have had a very positive response to the event and the opportunity to learn more about this relevant topic, although three families have chosen to withdraw their children from school.

“St Mary’s is an extremely inclusive school which embraces and celebrates difference and encourages children to be themselves. While some parents may have felt uneasy discussing a topic such as gender identity, our priority is to give pupils a well-rounded education and help them become responsible, independent people able to respect others.”