Ofsted boss criticises government inaction over anti-LGBT schools protests
The head of schools watchdog Ofsted has attacked the government for failing to publicly back teachers facing protests for LGBT+ inclusive relationship education.
Schools across England have faced pressure over their teachings on LGBT+ issues, after protests were sparked at Parkfield School in Birmingham in early 2019.
The High Court banned the group of protesters from standing outside the school in November, but the government has been accused of fuelling the row by failing to publicly back headteachers.
‘Intolerable’ that children were forced to listen to anti-gay protests
Launching Ofsted’s annual report on Tuesday, chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: “This year, a small number of state schools were picketed and bullied by protestors. Some were undoubtedly parents, but many others were seasoned agitators, wanting to escalate problems.
“The subject of their anger was relationships education in primary school – which generally amounts to telling children that there are different types of families, some with a mum and a dad, some with just one parent, some with only grandparents, and some with two mums or two dads.
“Out of this simple concept, protestors constructed a depressing tissue of exaggeration, outrage and, sometimes, lies. Actually, children were not being taught about the mechanics of gay sex; and they were not being turned towards homosexuality nor away from their families and their faith.
“The children, as well as teachers, had to walk into school past placard-waving protestors and then listen to diatribe blasting through megaphones outside. It was, quite simply, intolerable.”
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She added: “And yet, there was no swift condemnation from government and remarkably little from other local and national political leaders.
“The powerful voices that should have supported the children and the school were largely muted. Headteachers spoke of being isolated. Where leadership was desperately needed, it was lacking.”
Ofsted boss: Children ‘should learn’ about different kinds of family
Spielman made clear that Ofsted believes “unequivocally that children should learn about different kinds of family.”
Referring to tensions between religious freedom and “the law of the land,” she added: “We will keep us doing what we can to get people to face and talk about the difficult things.”
On Tuesday, Wales announced that parents would no longer be able to opt their children out of relationships and sexuality education.
Welsh education secretary Kirsty Williams, a Liberal Democrat, said: “Our responsibility as a government is to ensure that young people, through public education, have access to learning that supports them to discuss and understand their rights and the rights of others.
“It is essential that all young people are provided with access to information that keeps them safe from harm. Today’s decision ensures that all pupils will learn about issues such as online safety and healthy relationships.”