Saturday’s Birmingham Pride parade was led by members of the muslim community, who walked arm-in-arm with the primary school teacher at the centre of a row over lessons about same-sex relationships.
Andrew Moffat, assistant head teacher at Parkfield Community School and pioneer of the inclusive No Outsiders programme, walked at the front of the procession by Khakan Qureshi, founder of Birmingham South Asians LGBT and Saima Razzaq, from Supporting Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools (SEEDS).
The award-winning programme, which teaches children about children about the Equality Act, British values, and diversity using storybooks, has led to some members of the muslim community to protest outside schools.
Moffat said it was important to show what Birmingham is really like while the at times ugly and confrontational protests and counter-protests continue to rumble on.
Speaking to BBC News about the invitation to join the Pride parade, Moffat said it was “absolutely wonderful”.
“It’s so important, isn’t it, at this time that we are showing that’s what Birmingham is like,” Moffat said.
“It’s not about protests outside schools, that’s not Birmingham. This is Birmingham. They’re talking about 80,000 people turning up to support Pride.
“That’s Birmingham - supporting diversity and community cohesion.”
Meanwhile protesters have vowed to continue demonstrations against LGBT teaching at Anderton Park Primary School despite widespread criticism.
The head of the school in Moseley labelled the protests, which have continued for weeks, as “toxic and nasty”, adding they are bringing “hatred and division” to the usually quiet Birmingham cul-de-sac.
Lessons ended early on Friday for the half-term break after a decision by school leaders concerned about safety amid the protests.
The protests come after the city’s Parkfield Community School announced it would be suspending the programme until a resolution was be reached with parents.
School head Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson said she will not change what is taught at the school, in Moseley, because of the demonstrations.
Despite the criticism, the main organiser Shakeel Afsar, who does not have children at the school, used a sound system set up in the street to vow protests would be continuing after the half-term break, to cheers from a dozen protesters.
One protestor said the campaigners were “not a religious bigoted group”.
Another demonstrator, local businessman Zafar Majid, said: “The issue we have is the education being given, the indoctrination of the young children is that they are expected to affirm, to celebrate, to embrace LGBT ideology, which is against the moral ethics of the many Abrahamic religions and faiths.
“We can co-exist, live peacefully together, but what we cannot do is force each other’s ideology on one another.”
Hewitt-Clarkson told BBC Radio Five Live that the school is now seeking an injunction against the demonstrations.
“There is a real despair that has made this us-and-them feeling,” she said. “It’s only a small minority of parents and actually a majority are totally fed up of this.
“It’s not peaceful, it is aggressive, it’s rude.
“Their tactics are very bullying and intimidating, they’re meant to crush the spirit of people like me, and other women.”
She added there had been “sexism, misogyny, racism, on top of all the homophonic stuff and everything else we’ve had”.
She added it had been “really toxic, nasty, uncivil behaviour”.
Birmingham Pride events are taking place in and around the city’s gay village on 25 and 26 May.
Festival director Lawrence Barton said Moffat had been asked to lead the parade in light of the “division which the controversy over ‘No Outsiders’ lessons has created”.