Government integration tsar says it’s ‘not OK’ for religious schools to teach homophobia
The head of the government’s review into integration has warned that it is “not OK” for religious schools to teach homophobia.
Dame Louise Casey recently headed the Casey Review, which looked at issues of social cohesion, particularly among the British Muslim community.
Speaking to Parliament’s Communities and Local Government Committee this week, Dame Casey addressed the Trojan Horse scandal which exposed the influence of religious extremism in a number of Birmingham schools.
Asked if there were similar issues elsewhere int the country, Dame Casey said: “In terms of some of the things seen in what’s called the Trojan Horse, we did not find it very difficult to find things like segregation of girls, what I would describe as anti-equal opportunities or anti-liberal values.”
“I don’t want to go into too much detail, but yes it’s happening elsewhere.”
She added: “Trojan Horse is a set of issues that go from girls being split off from boys, through teachers essentially teaching extremism. I’m not sure I’m saying that is everywhere… but do I think some of the dynamics that happened in Trojan Horse are in play in other areas of the country.
“More importantly, when does a teacher running a secular school say [after pressure from parents] it’s fine for you not to do theatre or music or those sorts of things… when is that OK?
“I don’t really have a view on which religion it is that’s promoting those sorts of views, but it is not OK – the same way it is not OK for Catholic schools to be homophobic and anti-gay marriage. That’s not OK either.
“That’s not how we bring children up in this country. It’s often veiled as religious conservativism.
“I have a problem with the expression of religious conservatism because I think often it can be anti-equalities. We’ve got to be careful. People can choose to live the lives they want to live, but they can’t condemn others for living differently, and that’s a grey line.
“That really is the most important thing, that we’re able to go to it, and that headteachers aren’t left isolated and alone when they have these conversations.”
Addressing concerns about Islamist extremism, she said: “The genuine fear in all of this is we have extremes alive in our country – we have the extreme right-wing which is milking all of this for its worth… we have an extreme right-wing in our own country that we’re utterly appalled by, but we also have Islamist extremism at play.
“I have felt at points, it has been easier to talk about one than it is to talk about the other, and I think that does a disservice to thousands of people who are caught up being on the receiving end of not having the start in life they should have.”
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Dame Casey’s recent controversial report warned about low acceptance of LGBT people among British Muslims.
The official wrote: “There is evidence that some people in particular ethnic and faith communities have views around Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people that are at odds with mainstream modern British values and laws.
“Such views are frequently ascribed to more hard-line and extreme individuals in those communities.
“During this review, however, we have come across a worrying prevalence of anti-LGBT sentiment.
“Intimidation and hatred for those who leave their faith was brought to the attention of the team, particularly from people who left more traditional or conservative religious sects and who felt persecuted within their own community.
It continues: “During the review, we heard from a number of LGBT members of faith communities, in particular from within the Muslim community, about their experiences.
“These people face hate and stigmatisation both for being a Muslim and from within their own community for being gay and are therefore particularly isolated and held back.”