Parkfield primary school in Birmingham has suspended an inclusive diversity programme in an apparent U-turn after weeks of anti-LGBT protests.
The school has faced protests from Muslims and evangelical Christians who are opposed to lessons that teach children about LGBT+ people.
A number of parents reportedly pulled their children out of school over the issue, demanding the school scrap the No Outsiders programme run by gay assistant headteacher Andrew Moffat.
Parkfield school drops LGBT+ lessons ‘until a resolution is reached’
In a statement on Wednesday (March 13), the school confirmed it had suspended the programme until further notice, in an apparent U-turn on a previous decision.
The school said: “Nothing is more important than ensuring our children’s education continues uninterrupted.
“Yesterday, both parents and the trust held constructive discussions with the Regional Schools Commissioner, and as a result of these discussions we are eager to continue to work together with parents, over the coming days and weeks to find a solution that will support the children in our school to continue their education in a harmonious environment.
“Until a resolution has been reached, No Outsiders lessons will not be taught at Parkfield and we hope that children will not be removed from school to take part in protests.”
Just days beforehand, the school strongly denied reports that it would suspend the programme.
Hazel Pulley, head of the school’s academy trust, had told the Birmingham Mail on March 5 the lessons would continue “after Easter, as planned.”
She added: “The lessons are there for after Easter. Equalities education will continue.”
‘No evidence’ that LGBT+ lessons are not age appropriate
An Ofsted inspection carried out amid the row found that there was “no evidence” supporting criticism of the programme.
In the March 5 Ofsted report, senior inspector Peter Humphries wrote: “A very small, but vocal, minority of parents are not clear about the school’s vision, policies and practice.”
“This group of parents feel that staff do not sufficiently listen to their concerns.
“Their view is that PSHE education and equalities curriculum focuses disproportionately on LGBT issues and that this work is not taught in an age-appropriate manner.
“Inspectors found no evidence this was the case.”
Education Secretary had backed Parkfield school amid protests
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said on March 9: “I’ve always been clear that I support headteachers to make decisions and we believe in school autonomy, that school leaders are best-placed to make decisions.”
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman also hit out at the protests on February 21, saying: “It’s making sure they know just enough to know that some people prefer not to get married of someone of the opposite sex, and sometimes there are families that have two mummies or two daddies.
“It’s about making sure that children who do happen to realise that they themselves may not fit a conventional pattern know that they’re not bad or ill.
“It’s something that a vast majority of faith schools, including those who teach that homosexuality is not right in their faith, still manage to do this in a sensitive and careful way that does fulfil the law.”