Belfast Telegraph

Stop teaching about sexuality in schools, says DUP MP

Protect innocence: Jim Shannon
Protect innocence: Jim Shannon

By Elizabeth Arnold

A DUP MP has called for an end to teaching about sexuality in schools during a debate in the House of Commons.

MPs were debating parental involvement in teaching after a dispute in England about primary school children being taught about gay relationships.

There have been protests outside Birmingham's Anderton Park Primary School after some parents said their children were too young to learn about LGBT relationships, which they maintain contradicts their Islamic beliefs.

The school used story books featuring LGBT people and a curriculum that promoted support for gay people.

A legal injunction is now in place to prevent protesters demonstrating at the school gates.

However, Strangford DUP MP Jim Shannon told the House of Commons yesterday that children should not be taught about any sexuality.

"I recently read a post which said it is not about homosexuality, heterosexuality, or trans-sexuality," he said.

"Stop promoting sexuality to our kids, full stop. Let kids be kids. We need to protect the innocence of our children at all costs."

He also said "enforced teaching" against the will of a parent was "not acceptable in any way, shape or form".

Labour MP Roger Godsiff had defended parental involvement in teaching the Equality Act after campaigners protested at Anderton Park.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Godsiff said: "Children, some as young as four or five, were telling parents about what they allegedly had been taught in lessons. This had caused parents concern."

He said some aspects specific to teaching of sexuality were not popular with more socially conservative parents. Mr Godsiff added: "There was no consultation with the parents.

"The headteacher made it plain that no consultation was going to take place and no collective meetings with parents were held."

Mr Godsiff caused unrest on the Labour benches by refusing repeated calls for him to give way and allow interventions on the topic.

He said parents were "excluded entirely from the process" of how protected characteristics under the Equality Act were taught.

Labour MP Stephen Doughty suggested the protests at the school were due to a small number of individuals "whipping this up, creating a myth and creating fear".

Labour's Angela Eagle said teaching sex and relationship education in schools was something that "we should have been doing in this country generations ago".

Ms Eagle became visibly upset and appeared close to tears as she spoke in the chamber.

Her voice breaking with emotion, she said: "We know that the motivations of some of those involved in this are reactionary and they are to return us to an era where LGBT people should get back in the closet and hide and be ashamed of the way they are.

"We aren't going to get back in the closet, or hide, or be ashamed of the way we are.

"Nor are we going to allow a generation of pupils that are now in school to go through what the pupils in the 80s had to go through because this chamber let them down. Nor are we going to allow this to happen in the name of religion."

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