Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom has weighed in on a row over LGBT+ inclusive education in primary schools.
In an interview with LBC on Wednesday (March 20), the senior Conservative was asked about growing protests from groups of religious parents who are opposed to LGBT-inclusive education in UK schools.
The protests were started over the No Outsiders programme taught at primary schools in Birmingham, but demonstrators have since also targeted schools in Manchester to voice objections to teaching about LGBT+ issues.
Pressed on the issue by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, Leadsom said: “I think it is right that the government should have passed legislation that requires relationships and sex education is taught in schools, but at the same time, I also agree that it’s right parents should be able to choose the moment that their children become exposed to that information.”
Watch the interview with Andrea Leadsom on LBC below:
Andrea Leadsom: Parents should be able to choose when children ‘become exposed’
Asked whether a five year old should learn about LGBT+ people, Leadsom said: “I don’t believe that that is the case … I think it’s really important that we accept equality in every area, whilst at the same time respecting that parents may have concerns about how young their children are when they become aware of these things.”
The former Conservative Party leadership contender said she did not personally have an issue with her own children learning about LGBT+ issues, adding: “I would be entirely happy for my children to grow up finding that their LGBT classmates are exactly the same as them.
“One of my own kids was in a class with a friend who had two mums. That was absolutely normal, right from a very young age.”
Leadsom’s comments on LBC were criticised by the Liberal Democrats, who called the remarks “offensive.”
In a statement to PinkNews, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said: “Andrea Leadsom’s comment comes across as nothing short of bigoted and offensive.
“What she refers to as being ‘exposed to that information’ is, in fact, children being educated. Which is exactly what our schools are there to do, and are being taught to understand and be respectful of all individuals, families and relationships.
More from PinkNews
|Stars You Didn't Know Were Gay Or Bisexual||The Stars You Didn’t Know Have An LGBT Sibling||The Straight Stars Who Went Gay For Pay|
“The Leader of the House should apologise immediately for this unacceptable language.”
In a statement to PinkNews, Leadsom declined to apologise and claimed her views had been misrepresented.
She said: “As I said this morning, it is vital that every child is taught about the need for tolerance and respect, at home and in school, and that they demonstrate these values towards LGBT individuals at all times.
“I believe wholeheartedly in equality and ensuring children grow up accepting and respecting the diversity that shapes our country. Government policy allows parents to choose when their child takes part in sex education lessons of all kind, up until the age of 15.
“This unacceptable and deliberate misrepresentation of my views will have genuinely hurt my own LGBT friends and family, as well as the wider LGBT community.”
Andrea Leadsom says she is ‘massive supporter’ of LGBT+ rights
Leadsom, who abstained on same-sex marriage in 2013, also told Ferrari: “I’m a massive supporter of the efforts that [the Conservative Party] have made to achieve real equality in LGBT+ rights.”
While running for the party leadership in 2016, Leadsom admitted she “doesn’t like” same-sex marriage, claiming the law harmed Christians.
However, speaking to PinkNews in 2017, Leadsom said: “I have always been clear that I believe the love of same-sex couples is just as important, and indeed equal, as the love of heterosexual couples.
“I would be very happy to see same-sex couples married in a church, but that is a matter for the Church of England. I am proud to live in a country that recognises equality for all.”