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A group of around 20 parents are threatening to remove their children from a primary school with a gay assistant head teacher, after claiming it is “over-promoting LGBT movements”.
Parkfield Community School in Saltley, Birmingham, has been criticised by some parents for piloting a programme called No Outsiders, run by Andrew Moffat MBE, which challenges discrimination, including homophobia, in schools.
Books being read as part of the programme at the 770-pupil school, where 23 nationalities are represented, include Mommy, Mama and Me and King & King – stories about same-sex relationships and marriages.
But furious mum-of-three Fatima Shah has already taken her 10-year-old daughter out of school in protest, and has started a petition to halt the lessons.
She said: “It’s inappropriate, totally wrong. Children are being told it’s OK to be gay yet 98% of children at this school are Muslim. It’s a Muslim community.
“I’ve taken my daughter out and other parents have too. I’ve been threatened with a fine and told my daughter will be removed from the school register if I continue but I have no choice.”
In 2016 Parkfield Community school was awarded Outstanding status by Ofsted and the No Outsiders scheme was highlighted as a key strength. A year later, Moffat was awarded an MBE for services to equality and diversity in education.
But Shad said Moffat’s programme is against her Islamic beliefs. “My daughter came home and told me am I OK to be a boy? It’s confusing children about sexuality.”
Shah said she would be keeping her daughter at home until “something is done”. The mother said she had been paying for £20-per-hour home tuition instead.
While Shah is against the programme at Parkfield, the 29-year-old insists “gay people should be treated with mutual respect”.
She added: “We believe in fundamental British values and believe gay people should be treated with mutual respect and without prejudice or discrimination just like any other human being.
“We respect the Equality Act and believe it can be implemented without the promotion of homosexuality.
“We all have LGBT friends and are fine with them. Our point is that it is way too early to be teaching kids such sensitive stuff at five years old.”
She said children have a “naive and innocent picture of sexual relationships”, and that it is “inappropriate to teach them what is a gay or straight relationship” at such a young age.
Moffat moved to Parkfield in 2014 after resigning his post at Chilwell Croft Academy in Birmingham after Muslim and Christian parents complained that they did not want their children to “learn that it’s OK to be gay”.
In an interview in 2019 Moffat said he moved to Parkfield because “I specifically wanted to work in a school where there was a strong probability that I would face challenges to my LGBT equality work, so that I could learn from mistakes made in the past and find a way to get it right.”
Today, in a joint statement outlining concerns by parents, Moffat and Hazel Pulley, CEO of Excelsior Multi Academy Trust, said Parkfield Community School “have no plans to change their curriculum and No Outsiders remains an integral part of the drive for excellence”.
They said: “The No Outsiders programme teaches children that everyone is welcome.
“A key element of the No Outsiders ethos is engagement with parents from the start, in order to promote solid foundations of tolerance that are matched both in and outside the school gates.
“Ninety-eight per cent of the children at Parkfield practice the Islamic faith and initially this presented tension within some aspects of No Outsiders, specifically the acceptance of LGBT equality.
“Through parent workshops where resources and discussions were shared in the early stages of the pilot, the school was able to move forward with the support of the parent community.”
They added: “In the last four years the No Outsiders ethos has blossomed as an integral part of the school.”
A few miles down the road from Parkfield school, primary teachers at the Oasis Academy Shortheath in Erdington have been successfully running the No Outsiders classes for two years.
Deputy principal Joe Darnley told HuffPost UK: “It’s been working really well and it’s all about creating an environment where children can safely talk about issues where equality is paramount.
“The scheme teaches mutual respect and exposes bigotry. We are run by a Christian association with mainly white pupils but we had a full consultation with all parents before we began the course.”
He added: “The lessons have helped at least one pupil here who was feeling confused about his sexuality and the No Outsiders space gave him the confidence to share his feelings.”
Local MP Liam Byrne told HuffPost: “Wise schools involve their parents upfront in the development of teaching material, and this is exactly what Parkfield has done every step of the way.
“Birmingham was built by people from all walks of life, coming together to live, love, work and build an amazing community.
“That’s why we believe in ‘No Outsiders’. There are LGBT people of every race, faith and community and it is our responsibility to let these children know that there is nothing wrong with them.”
Leaflet handed out to parents outside Parkfield School
Brothers and sisters, is it OK for your children to be gay?
Are you aware of the resource being used in literacy lessons promoting homosexuality?
Did you know Mr Moffat left his last role because parents believed he had no right coming out to children? They wanted all the lessons containing LGBT to be removed from curriculum.
Did you know that our children are now being taught the very same thing?
Have you asked what your children are being taught? What they are reading?
Please join us in our petition to have the No Outsider removed from the curriculum.
Please help us make a difference to what children are being taught.
Source: Mariam Ahmed