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‘Education ministers too slow to respond to protests over LGBT lessons’

Government adviser Sara Khan said the DfE could have clarified what was actually being taught.

Parents protest against LGBT lessons (Jacob King/PA)
Parents protest against LGBT lessons (Jacob King/PA)

Headteachers dealing with protests over LGBT lessons should have been given more support, the Government’s chief adviser on countering extremism has said.

Campaigners held banners saying “Don’t confuse our children” and “Let kids be kids” outside the Parkfield Community School in Birmingham after books featuring same-sex couples were used in a programme to teach about diversity.

The school decided to suspend its No Outsiders programme in February until an agreement could be reached with concerned parents.

There's a lot of confusion about what's actually being taught and I think DfE could have played a very important role in clarifying to parents this is what's actually being taught, not the misinformation that we're seeing out there Sara Khan

But Sara Khan, who became a Government adviser in January 2018, likened the protests to a “mob”.

Speaking about the Department for Education’s response to the issue, she told BBC’s Panorama: “I think they were too slow to respond. There’s a lot of confusion about what’s actually being taught and I think DfE could have played a very important role in clarifying to parents this is what’s actually being taught, not the misinformation that we’re seeing out there.

“It’s a mob chanting and shouting and engaging in intimidating and threatening behaviour.

“And I think we have to recognise that and call it out for what it is.”

The No Outsiders programme teaches according to the Equality Act, and the school’s assistant headteacher, Andrew Moffat, said you cannot pick and choose which parts of it to apply.

Pupils are taught about the positive values of diversity, tolerance and acceptance, in a broad curriculum encompassing LGBT rights, same-sex relationships, gender identity, race, religion and colour.

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Parkfield Community School in Birmingham suspended lessons about diversity and LGBT issues after they triggered weekly parents’ protests (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Last month, Mr Moffat revealed that the daily demonstrations outside the school gates had left some children in tears.

As a result of the disruption and negative effect on the youngsters, the school decided to suspend its No Outsiders programme until an agreement could be reached with concerned parents.

The PSHE teacher said the lessons do not make reference to sexual acts, and pupils are simply read stories where people have different families.

BBC Panorama: Sex Education: The LGBT Debate In Schools will be shown on Monday at 8.30pm on BBC One

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