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Education

Birmingham teacher at the centre of school protests says if people can’t ‘celebrate’ LGBT+ folk, they should at least ‘accept’ them

Lily Wakefield April 7, 2020
Pat Sowa has called for LGBT inclusive education, like the lessons designed by Andrew Moffat Birmingham

Andrew Moffat teaches at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham. (Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize/YouTube)

Andrew Moffat, the Birmingham teacher whose No Outsiders programme became the subject of continued school protests last year, said he will settle for acceptance of LGBT+ people rather than celebration.

Moffat said he has implemented a “realistic” change of terminology in the new version of his No Outsiders programme, one which he says may disappoint some LGBT+ people.

Rather than asking people to “celebrate” LGBT+ people and families, he is now asking them to simply “accept” them.

He explained that the change was inspired by a letter he received from a Church of England vicar.

“He asked me to consider that for some people of faith, while ‘tolerating’ LGBT+ [people] was realistic, ‘celebrating’ was not,” Moffat told The Guardian.

This stuck in my throat. My initial response was to accuse him of being homophobic and of asking me to accept his homophobia.

Moffat said that on reflection, he realised that that the request wasn’t an unreasonable one.

“I may get a backlash from the LGBT+ community, but I think I am being realistic. To say ‘I know you are Muslim, gay, black’ is not inviting people to make any judgment. They just need to know.”

Andrew Moffat says No Outsider changes came after a period of reflection.

The award-winning educator insisted that the change from celebration to acceptance is not a climbdown.

“The last six months have been a huge learning curve and sometimes the right thing to do is step back and listen and reflect. I am not always right.

“Sometimes there is no right or wrong response; there’s just a response and the ‘right or wrong’ depends on the listeners experience and understanding. The challenge is to work with the response to find common ground while bringing people with me.”

He added: “I am very happy to be gay myself and I’m celebrating that, but I don’t expect you to celebrate my sexual orientation with me.

“However, I do expect it to be accepted without judgment in the same way I will accept those parts of you that may be different to me.”

Protestors demonstrate against the 'No Outsiders' programme at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England
Protestors demonstrate against the ‘No Outsiders’ programme at Parkfield Community School on March 21, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Moffat spoke to The Guardian to mark the release of his second book, No Outsiders: Everyone Different, Everyone Welcome.

The book presents a new version of the award-winning programme which he first created while he was assistant head teacher at Parkfield Primary School in Birmingham.

The programme teaches children about all types of equality and includes inclusive education about LGBT+ families through the use of picture books.

The LGBT+ elements of No Outsiders made headlines in early 2019 after protests were sparked at Parkfield School. The rallies were attended by hundreds, with some protest leaders even accusing No Outsiders of teaching anal sex, paedophilia and “transgenderism”.

Moffat recently moved on from his role as assistant head at Parkfield to a new job at the Excelsior Multi Academy Trust, which runs the school, to allow him to deliver more training on No Outsiders.

More: acceptance, andrew moffat, Birmingham, celebration, Education, No Outsiders, tolerance

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