Words: Will Stroude
Four more Birmingham schools have scrapped lessons on LGBTQ acceptance following complaints from homophobic parents, as the campaign to erase LGBTQ people from the classroom continues.
The Leigh Trust, a multi-academy trust formed of 23 schools based in the Kent, Medway and South East London, has announced it has suspended the 'No Outsiders' programme at four schools in Birmingham while it consults with parents about how to implement the lessons, which cover diversity and the 2010 Equality Act and are unrelated to sex education.
According to the BBC, 'No Outsiders' has been suspended at Leigh Primary School, Alston Primary School, Marlborough Junior and Infants School and Wyndcliff Primary School until June.
It comes just days after the school at the centre of the row, Birmingham's Parkfield Community School, announced that 'No Outsiders' lessons had been suspended following weeks of protests by parents outside the school gates and the removal of children from classes.
The programme was implemented at Parkfield in 2014 by the school's gay assistant head teacher Andrew Moffat, who has also been subjected to personal attacks by parents.
Coverage of the row in the mainstream press has often incorrectly conflated 'No Outsiders' with sex education lessons, which some believe are inappropriate for children of primary school age.
However, the programme simply teaches children that LGBTQ people exist and deserve respect: something bigoted parents have still taken issue with, saying it contravenes their faith.
Campaigner Amir Ahmed told the BBC: "Fundamentally the issue we have with 'No Outsiders' is that it is changing our children's moral position on family values on sexuality and we are a traditional community.
"Morally we do not accept homosexuality as a valid sexual relationship to have. It's not about being homophobic... that's like saying, if you don't believe in Islam, you're Islamophobic."
From 1986-2003, schools were forbidden from "promoting homosexuality" or "teaching acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship" under the infamous Section 28 legislation.
The response of local authorities to the current conflict will set a precedent for years to come as to how - and frankly whether - schools address LGBTQ issues.
As young LGBTQ people continue to suffer disproportionately high rates of bullying and mentl health problems, schools must be empowered to stand up to attempts to erase their identites from the classroom.