‘Around 600’ children taken out of school during campaign against LGBT lessons
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said children should not have to walk past protests on their way to school.
The Education Secretary has called for more dialogue between schools and parents after protesters took their children out of school to continue campaigning against the teaching of LGBT lessons.
Police attended Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham on Monday after campaigners claimed around 600 pupils had been taken out of lessons.
East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds said children and teachers should not have to walk past protests on their way to school and stressed the importance of children having an “opportunity to find out about and discuss the reality of our society”.
The leader of Birmingham City Council has since threatened protesters with a Public Spaces Protection Order to counter the demonstrations.
West Midlands Police said they are also investigating a group who threw eggs at people and houses after another group placed placards and banners outside the premises supporting the school’s stance.
The force said they received reports at 9.30pm on Sunday of assault and criminal damage on Dennis Road in Moseley, as well as reports of malicious communications received by the school on Thursday.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hinds said: “I want schools and parents to be talking about these things.
“We have come a long way actually and from next year and the year after, we are going to have relationships education as a mandatory subject in primary schools.
“It’s about 20 years since we updated the guidance on relationships and sex education and a lot has changed in that time.”
Addressing the demonstrations, Mr Hinds said: “We live in a society where we have a legal framework that rightly protects different people through society and recognises, celebrates the fact that people are different.
“Of course it’s also true that religion itself is a protected characteristic under the equalities legislation but it is important that in school, children are growing up knowing about modern Britain, knowing about the country in which they are going to become adults.
“There is really good dialogue going on in Birmingham and elsewhere and I want that to continue.”
Explaining why the Government takes a different stance to parents on the issue, Mr Hinds said: “What we’re doing is we’re making sure all children growing up have an opportunity to find out about and discuss the reality of our society.
“You can have a child in your class who has same-sex parents, you can have children who have two parents, children who have single parents, children who come to school with their grandparents, children who are with foster carers – all sorts of different families.
“I think this is a thing not only to recognise but to celebrate. It’s good to be talking about it.
Kids should be able to come to school, they shouldn't have to walk past protests. Damian Hinds MP
“Kids should be able to come to school, they shouldn’t have to walk past protests… teachers shouldn’t have to walk past protests to come to school.”
The leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward, said he would be seeking an order to stop the protests.
Mr Ward said: “This absolutely has to stop and I’ve asked council officers to see if we could use a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to counter these demonstrations.
“If a PSPO is not appropriate, then we will look at alternative options, because the children and staff at Anderton Park have a right to attend school without this daily disruption.
“It’s one thing for parents to ask questions about elements of a school curriculum.
“It’s quite another for others to pounce on the situation as an excuse to peddle hatred and misinformation.”
Labour MP Jess Phillips, who attended the school on Monday, said on Twitter: “Our equalities laws protect us all.
“I will not be called aggressive for wanting to protect all of the community, Muslims too.
“This is doing deep damage to the Muslim community and these protesters do not represent Birmingham.”
Chief Superintendent Kenny Bell, from Birmingham East police, said: “We remain wholly committed to tackling all forms of hate crime; such behaviour is completely unacceptable within our many diverse and multi-cultural communities.
“It seems last night’s offences were motivated by hate and we need to get to the bottom of what happened and why.”