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Education

London school flooded with abusive messages after painting a rainbow crossing to celebrate LGBT History Month

Josh Milton February 10, 2020
The LGBT+ Pride flag crossing outside Woodside High School attracted hundreds of online complaints. (Woodside High School/Instagram)

The LGBT+ Pride flag crossing outside Woodside High School attracted hundreds of online complaints. (Woodside High School/Instagram)

Parents dropping off their kids and passersby pummelling the pavement, clenching their bags of groceries, may have noticed a splash of colour outside a local school in London, England.

Woodside High School teachers and pupils cheerfully came out to celebrate the opening an LGBT+ Pride flag crossing, installed outside its building last week.

It was, according to Haringey Council, the “first school in the country with a LGBT+ road crossing.”

But staff have since claimed to have received more than 200 abusive messages as a result.

What happened?

Staff have been prepping for LGBT+ History Month – celebrated by schools and companies up and down the county – by draping classrooms and hallways with Pride flag garlands as well as organising workshops.

Painted last week, the school proudly shared photographs of the crossing on Twitter and Instagram to commemorate the month.

Haringey Council tweeted on February 6 that “diversity, equality and inclusion” are “something we should all celebrate”.

But a tirade of threats pelted the premises, which “may seem shocking to some, but for the LGBTQI+ community, threats, aggression and hate is a regular occurrence,” the school wrote in an online statement.

“Education is critical in addressing this.”

None of the abuse was thrown by parents of children attending the school, “or anyone connected with the school,” a spokesperson told BBC News.

They added that the school had been “overwhelmed with positive messages of support from parents, carers and [its] community.”

Gerry Robinson, head of Woodside High School said: “This rainbow crossing stands for our commitment to championing equality, for our children’s rights to be respected and able to thrive as themselves, in school and beyond.

“The hundreds of abusive messages regarding Woodside’s work on equality will not deter us from continuing our work.

“In fact, it only encourages us further for we do not want our students to go out into the world and face such hate.”

Online abuse comes amid LGBT-inclusive education row.

When a primary school headteacher in Birmingham set up an inclusive programme last year, it ignited backlash and debate.

While parents pulled children from lessons and others picketed outside the gates and thronged the streets, others rallied to support him.

In April, the UK parliament approved LGBT-inclusive guidance in relationships education, which is set to become compulsory in UK primary and secondary schools in September 2020.

More: Education, London, pride flag, school

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