There’s a dark undercurrent to the recent outrage over LGBT-inclusive education at a Birmingham primary school: It’s showing the bigotry of the LGBT+ community, too.
I am gay and grew up Muslim. I know Islam to be a peaceful religion but unfortunately, like all religions, it has in years past been hijacked by the misguided radical fringes, thus giving the wider world the impression that we are all ISIS flag-waving, intolerant cave-people. That just isn’t true.
Yet on social media, the furore around the recent protests at Parkfield Community School has given rise for gay people to, essentially, openly display their own prejudices. Tweets and Facebook posts about the subject creep into what could be considered Islamophobic and racist.
If you’re on the same wavelength as Katie Hopkins on this issue, my LGBT+ brethren, it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
The vicious cycle of bigotry needs to stop. Do better.
Amazing the amount of gays who are like “being gay doesn’t define who I am! Hate LGBT politics! Homophobia is over etc etc” are all over the Birmingham school issue because it gives them the chance to bash Muslims. Vile.
— Tom King (@tomilo) 7 March 2019
Birmingham school protest isn’t just a Muslim issue
The protests taking place at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham are not just an issue of Muslim parents opposing LGBT-inclusive education. As the protests outside the school on Thursday (March 7) and earlier this week have shown, it’s attracting anti-LGBT+ bigots from the fringes of other religions, like a speaker who addressed the audience yesterday from a group called Anglican Mainstream and an ultra-Orthodox Jewish activist.
The rhetoric being thrown around by people claiming to represent our predominant faith groups in the UK includes claims that Parkfield’s inclusive teaching is “reinterpreting religious scriptures,” as one man put it on Thursday.
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To be clear, what these people are opposing, in essence, is a programme that simply informs children of the different types of people they will encounter in life and encourages tolerance.
The No Outsiders programme at Parkfield, devised by assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat, teaches the Equality Act 2010 and gives children understanding that other people exist: People of other religions, people with disabilities, and, yes, people who are LGBT+. Is that not a good thing? To teach our children to be tolerant of others from a young age?
The inclusive programme has been conflated with the promotion of homosexuality by radical fringes—who, it should be stressed, do not represent the majority of any major religious group.
The message we need to send to these people is this: No one is trying to turn your kid gay. No one is trying to teach your child gay sex as if it were a Maths or English lesson. Your kid is simply learning to be respectful of others.
What we, as LGBT+ people, shouldn’t be doing is showing ourselves to be as bigoted about another group—in this case Muslims—as people are about us.
The bigger picture
The mudslinging in the Parkfield situation belies the larger foe lurking in the background: Fringe fundamentalist groups who are attempting to use their influence to roll back LGBT+ rights.
The Anglican Mainstream group campaigned against same-sex marriage in Britain. On Thursday, a spokesperson for the group claimed they are watching and supporting the protests in Birmingham. That’s worrying.
We have also seen fundamentalist groups support and fund defendants in gay wedding cake lawsuits and far-right groups trying to influence the conversation on transgender rights, perhaps in collusion with another group they abhor—lesbians. That, too, is worrying.
The views reflected in this opinion piece are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews.