Amid the current anti-LGBT inclusive education debacle, it can somtimes feel like protests against inclusive education are still being seen as an exclusively Muslim thing – almost as if homophobia doesn’t exist in other communities.
However just as there have been homophobic Muslims willing to speak frankly about their opinions, there are also a number of Muslim queer speakers who have had their say too. But guess who mainstream society prefers to listen to?
Queer Muslim groups like Hidayah and Imaan have been very vocal in supporting inclusive education for schools. Independent queer Muslim campaigners like Khakan Qureshi, Ferhan Khan and Hafsa Qureshi have spoken to the press, appeared on the news and written countless articles on why inclusive education for LGBT people needs to happen.
While one Muslim drag queen, Seema, even read a story from the ‘No Outsiders’ range publicly to a class of children, Hidaya have led school lessons on inclusion, and have more on the way. Imaan, Britain’s oldest LGBTQI Muslim support group have been speaking on radio shows in support of queer inclusive education and led this year’s Birmingham Pride parade, alongside No Outsiders programme founder Andrew Moffat. That’s more than just a few Muslims speaking in support of inclusive education.
Far from holding rowdy street protests like their homophobic brethren (if they can call them that), the actions of Muslim LGBT activists speak volumes. They are not only cleaning up the mess of a group of people, who clearly are at odds in their beliefs, but also spreading the true word of all religions – coexistence in peace. Perhaps this is too boring for your everyday person to embrace.
It is unfair and damaging that any child needs to feel guilty about themselves or their families solely due to their identity that they cannot – and do not need to – change. What helps them, aside from being accepted in schools, is being accepted in their communities, or at least knowing that there are those in their communities that they can turn to. If we are to disregard the existence and efforts of those trying to help, then it’s a job that’s only half done. To cry out on social media ‘where are the liberals?’ or ‘we shouldn’t believe in fairytales for schools’ doesn’t help – LGBT kids need support, not sneer guilt tripping them about their identity.
No one is saying that homophobia in the Muslim community doesn’t exist. Those who are proud to deny the existence of others in front of the camera or behind closed doors do disservice not only to others but to their own religion. These homophobic parents are, it seems, beyond caring what people think about them as much as any other homophobic, racist or sexist person. The last thing they would ever worry about, is the health of a child compared to their own opinions.
How they socially portray the image of their religion, however is something beyond their concern. When there are those that do care and wish to do something about it, that affirm tolerance rather than hatred, it’s time we listen to them too.