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Government ministers accused of ‘radio silence’ over LGBT inclusive education school protests

Ella Braidwood September 20, 2019
Protestors against LGBT lessons outside Anderton Park Primary school, Birmingham

Protestors outside Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham. (Alum Rock Community Forum)

Ministers have been accused of “radio silence” over their response to protests against LGBT+ inclusive education at a school in Birmingham.

Protests have resumed outside Anderton Park Primary School, which was targeted before last summer over its inclusive curriculum.

The protests have been organised by mostly conservative Muslim campaigners, but some Christians have also taken part.

Dame Louise Casey, a top government official, has now criticised ministers over how they have dealt with the protests.

“They’ve just been too silent on this,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Laws have been put through parliament that protect religious freedoms and protect the rights of people who are gay and want to get married.

“That has to be promoted – that we respect both but that both also have to respect each other,” she added.

Government official criticises ministers over response to protests against LGBT+ lessons.

Louise Casey poses after she was made a Dame by the Prince of Wales during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on November 25, 2016 in London, England. (John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Casey previously headed up a major 2016 report, known as the Casey Review, that found “worrying levels” of social exclusion and segregation in Britain, which it said were fuelling inequality in some areas.

She was, however, criticised by some campaigners and accused of discriminating against Muslims over the report. She has always denied the allegations.

“If I was gay and watching what was happening in Birmingham, I would say it was discriminatory,” she added on the Today programme.

“When you see it on the television, what I hear is homophobia and homophobia is not a value I want any child in this country to grow up and learn.”

A High Court injunction was granted earlier this year barring protests immediately outside Anderton Park Primary School.

But protests have resumed on a patch of grass about 100 metres from the school, which is outside the exclusion zone.

Protests against LGBT+ lessons start again.

In October, a court ruling will determine whether campaigners can continue to protest immediately outside the school.

The protests against LGBT+ inclusive education first started earlier this year outside another Birmingham primary school, Parkfield Primary School.

The demonstrations were sparked by government plans to include LGBT+ relationships in the sex education curriculum across schools in England and Wales.

In April, the government approved plans to ensure children are taught about LGBT+ people in sex and relationships education in all state primary and secondary schools from September 2020.

Following Casey’s comments, schools minister Nick Gibb, who is openly gay, told the Today programme that the claim that the government was not trying to “defuse” protests was “not true”.

“We have very senior officials working on a daily basis with the school, with Birmingham City Council, with the parents, with the protesters, to find a solution to the dispute between these two schools and these parents,” he added.

“That is the way to handle such a sensitive issue, not to have people, ministers grandstanding, or other people in the media grandstanding on these issues.

“I have said publicly, the former secretary of state has said publicly, the current secretary of state has said publicly, we strongly encourage schools to teach when they are teaching about different kinds of families to teach about same sex relationships.”

More: Birmingham, LGBT, LGBT-inclusive education, protests

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