Labour MP Jess Phillips ‘heartbroken’ by school protests in Birmingham
Labour MP Jess Phillips has said she is “heartbroken” by the protests outside a Birmingham school over the teaching of an LGBT-inclusive programme.
A group of parents who object to the lessons have been petitioning and staging protests outside Parkfield Community School for weeks.
Members of various religious conservative groups have also joined the demonstrations.
Videos of the protest published on the Facebook page Alum Rock Community Forum, a local residents’ group, showed a man addressing the crowd from a van bearing the slogans “Our children, our choice” and “Stop! No Outsiders.”
Commenting on the protests on Twitter, Phillips wrote: “I know it’s late but I feel heartbroken by the video circulating, which I will not repost from outside a Birmingham school.
“Truly heartbroken it is so damaging for both LGBTQI community but also harms the Muslim community and does not represent our city at all.”
She added: “I will challenge the intolerance, which is too weak a word, it’s bigotry and hatred and I am deeply hurt by it.”
“Hatred breeds hatred. I promise you action is being taken,” she wrote.
Birmingham school protests
One of the men addressing the rally on Thursday demanded the abolition of the No Outsiders programme, accusing its creator, assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat, of “reinterpreting religious scriptures.”
He called the programme “toxic” and “mind-altering” and said the protesters’ goal is to prevent the programme from being taught at schools across the UK.
One demonstrator who was invited on stage to address the crowd introduced herself as Dr Lisa Nolland of the Anglican Mainstream, a religious group known for its anti-LGBT stance.
Addressing the crowd, Nolland said the protesters have become an inspiration: “We are standing behind you, you are showing us the way.”
She added: “We are for toleration, kindness, respect, no-bullying, but that doesn’t mean No Outsiders.”
Protests intensified at the beginning of the month, with more than 500 parents reportedly refusing to send their children to school on Friday (March 1).
Moffat, who launched the No Outsiders project in 2014 to educate children about acceptance, said he had received threats.
“I’ve had some nasty emails, I’ve had some comments on messenger,” he said. “I have felt very threatened… It’s been a challenging couple of weeks.”
He added: “There are lots of people recognising that this work is important and that’s what you have to hold on to.”